Producing porcelain since the early Edo period

Mikawachi is located in the northeast of Nagasaki prefecture. The area has played a role in the group of kilns in the region of Hizen since Edo period, alongside nearby Arita and Hasami. Due to the area being part of Hirado Domain, the wares created at Mikawachi during the Edo period are also Hirado ware.  
The beginning of Mikawachi ware
It is told that ceramic making within Hirado Domain was begun by Korean potters, such as Kōrai Ba and Koseki from Uncheon, Korea and their families. In 1683 San’nojō, son of Korean potter Koseki, discovered pottery stone as a raw material for porcelain at Mitsudake (Egamichō, Sasebo city), resulting in the production of porcelains and celadons. 
Full-fledged pottery industry in Hirado Domain
In 1673 a ceramic manufacturing site was established at Mikawachi by order of the lord of Hirado Domain, with Imamura San’nojō assigned as the Sarayama (‘pottery production site’ in Kyūshū dialect) chief and magistrate. After 1643 the Mikawachi kiln became part of the Three Sarayama System that included Enaga kiln and Kihara kiln, having a central role in the pottery industry in Hirado Domain.
 Production of fine porcelain
 In 1668 five buildings were newly constructed at Mikawachi kiln by the Hirado Domain, including the crafting workshop, the magistrate’s office and a watchhouse. There were some 20 selected workers (including chief Imamura Yajibei) working at the crafting workshop. From around this time the kiln was both a place for the production of common Mikawachi wares and the official kiln of the domain, creating quality porcelains.
The main raw material used to make Mikawachi ware is the Amakusa pottery stone. There are various theories about when it was first used, but what is true about this material is that it is highly fire-resistant and easy to fashion, allowing highly skilled potters to create a diversity of crafts and making it possible also to make delicate openwork. 
Ukiage (okiage) relief 
Ukiage (okiage) is a technique used to make reliefs of motifs by repeatedly applying slip (made by dissolving the same clay used to make the vessel in water) with a brush. This is a technique typical of Mikawachi ware since the Edo period. 
Eggshell porcelain/china
In 1837 Ikeda Yasujirō from Mikawachi perfected the making of porcelain as thin as paper. It is said that the vessel with its lid weighed only 30 grams. The thinness was inimitable by other kilns. Eggshell porcelain/china became popular in the west for its thinness and beautiful polychrome motifs, becoming the main Mikawachi product to be exported overseas from the latter half of the Edo period to the Meiji Period. 
Printed miniature
Like Kutani ware and Satsuma ware, ceramic wares with detailed designs were also produced at Mikawachi kiln during the Meiji period. The Rokkasen (Six Immortal Poets) motif could be seen on the Mikawachi coffee cups exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. The motif became popular in the west and was used on many products for export.
The Karako motif
It is characteristic in Mikawachi ware to frame a picture with Yoraku patterns (called rinbō in Mikawachi) which includes pine, peony and karako (boy or doll dressed in ancient Chinese costume). This design was established as a standard in early 19th century and became a representative feature of Mikawachi ware. 
Mikawachi Ware Museum
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Credits: Story

Images and information provided by:
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
Kyushu Ceramic Museum

Direction and Text:
Matsushita Hisako, Kyushu National Museum

English translation:
Eddy Y.L. Chang

This exhibition is created by:
Okano arisa, Kyoto Women's University
Nakatani Nagisa, Kyoto Women's University
Ueyama Emiko, Kyoto Women's University

Project Directers:
Dr Maezaki Shinya,Associate Professor, Kyoto Women's University
Yamamoto Masako, Ritsumeikan University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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