Cup Nomenclature

This morning I read a very nice article about Japanese cups, defining their names and uses. You can see it here:

It is quite informative (it even mentions Karatsu) and even better, has some really stunning contemporary pieces to

see (but no Karatsu, tsk, tsk, more on this below).

There is one point in the article I would like to clarify a bit: the author mentions the word hakuji , meaning white porcelain made from kaolin clay from Izumiyama. For most folks this is probably a sufficient description, but at Karatsupots blog we are deep into ceramigeek territory, so consider yourself duly warned.

Izumiyama was the first deposit of porcelain stone discovered in Japan, in 1616, in present day Arita. Old Arita, Imari ware was made from this material. However, another porcelain deposit was discovered in Amakusa, Kumamoto, in the late 1600s, and began to be used for porcelain production in the early 18th century. Today, Amakusa stone accounts for more than 80% of porcelain in Japan. It is whiter than Izumiyama porcelain stone, is easier to work with, and much cheaper. Very few artists today work with Izumiyama porcelain (and probably no factories, but this is speculation on my part). Izumiyama is not being mined currently.

Izumiyama is still available, but not very dependably, and it is quite expensive. I use it because it is absolutely beautiful in wood firings, but is is difficult to work with and losses are high. Ok, enough on Izumiyama.

Next, guinomi, choko, and sakazuki. All are names for sake cups, with one caveat: guinomi are not just for sake, while choko and sakazuki are.

Now, to rectify the lack of Karatsu ware pictures. Again, for most folks it is not all that important, but this is Karatsupots after all, and to quote Pink Floyd’s The Trial, “this will not do.” So, here are some pictures of Karatsu cups.

Nishioka Koju. Chosen Karatsu guinomi

Maruta Munehiko. Brush decorated Karatsu guinomi

Nakazato Shigetoshi. Brush decorated Karatsu guinomi

Old Karatsu. Madara Karatsu

Old Karatsu. Brush Decorated

Old Karatsu. Kawakujira

Old Karatsu. Chosen Karatsu

Okamoto Sakurei. Brush deco Karatsu

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