Taisho Era Kyoyaki Ceramic Bowls from Naramachi Antique Store

Greetings from Kyoto

Score! Novel patterned and colored antique ceramic bowls in Nara, from Kyoto.

I am quite into Japanese ceramics and pottery and sometimes buy antique pieces too. Today, in Naramachi, at an antique store I found a set of antique ceramic bowls that I instantly fell in love with. They are from the Taisho period (1912–1926). Culturally, this is perhaps my (most) favorite period in Japanese history. During the Taisho, Japan had absorbed a great deal of Western ideas and technology, yet Japan was still Japanese. After WW2, Japan largely ceased to be Japanese. From the post-war period Japanese tried to ‘import culture’, as opposed to just technology. Culture cannot really be imported. Well, not successfully.

Taisho art and design is fascinating to me because it has some Western ‘feel’ to it, but still looks and is authentically Japanese. What a combination! These bowls are great. The box says that they come from a kiln in Kyoto, that makes them ‘kyoyaki‘.

The shape is pure Japanese, the pattern is pretty funky,  but the color scheme is just really out there. I imagine this looks to be something like ‘psychedelic’ in Kyoto 100 years ago. (The dark lines are actually more purple than they appear in my photos here. Sorry.)

Originally, this was a set of 10 pieces but over time 4 were broken or lost. While it may no longer exist, I am thinking of searching for the kiln or information about the maker – his name is written on the cover of the box. Even if I can’t find it, I might still look for a Kyoto potter working in a similar style that can make me another four pieces to remake the full set.

Reference: Japanese Pottery and Porcelain (Wikipedia article)


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