japan and china

Our partnership was named iTWS japan LLP, meaning “inbound three-way satisfaction japan limited liability partnership”. Of course, we have intentionally used a small letter “j” for Japan, and here, you can confirm the reason why we did so.
But unless you are a native English speaker, you might not know the fact that one word “japan” actually exists. Also, have you ever seen another word “china”, not “China”? Maybe, china is more famous than japan. While japan means lacquerware, china refers to to-jiki. Today, I would like to introduce the latter to you.

Since pottery, toki, and porcelain, jiki, are produced and used in similar ways, the Japanese use the word “to-jiki” to refer to both of them.

Toki is glazed pottery with an opaque body. Toki were introduced to Japan from China in the 8th century, and their production flourished with the tea ceremony in the late 16th century. Famous toki pottery ware includes Satsuma-yaki, Hagi-yaki, and Mashiko-yaki.

Jiki is glazed porcelain with a white translucent body. Jiki were also introduced from China. When Nabeshima Naoshige, the de facto founder of the Saga domain, withdrew from Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea, he took hundreds of artisans away to Japan. One of them was Ri Sampei, who is considered to be the father of Arita-yaki porcelain.
Jiki made in Arita, Saga Prefecture, was exported to Europe from the port Imari by the Dutch East India Company, and European people appreciated its artistic qualities. With Naoshige, Sampei is honored at Sueyama Shrine in Arita. Other famous jiki porcelain ware includes Kiyomizu-yaki and Kutaki-yaki.

Seto in Aichi Prefetcure is well-known for its ceramic production, so people still refer to to-jiki as “seto-mono”, meaning things of Seto. I visited Seto today on November 25th. It takes less than 50 minutes by train from the center of Nagoya, the capital city of Aichi Prefecture, to Owari Seto Station on the Meitetsu Seto Line.

Some areas of Seto are decorated with colorful patterns made of pottery objects. You can see different types of pottery walls at Kamagaki no Komichi, the path with kamagaki pottery walls. Kamagaki is a type of foundation material for fences, retaining walls and other constructions made by potters in their spare time using large pieces of old kiln furniture such as saggars, plates and supports from climbing kilns or coal kilns. Kamagaki walls don’t contain cement or other types of binder but are reinforced by assembling pieces of different sizes and shapes of kiln furniture.

You can see circular, square, rectangular and tubular shapes of the kiln furniture in kamagaki walls. Near Kamagaki no Komichi is Hosenji Temple where you can find the paintings on the ceiling of the main hall allegedly made by ceramic painters from Seto. In addition, you can enjoy ceramic art experience in the town. Why don’t you go for a stroll in the capital of ceramic production and try to find your favorite kamagaki wall?

Yuki Takano, a member of iTWS japan LLP

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