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  • Japanese: 陶器 (touki), 焼物 (yakimono)

Kyushu yields some of the oldest pottery in the world - dated at approximately 10-11,000 BCE. Pottery dating back several thousand years has also been found elsewhere throughout much of the archipelago.[1].

While debates go back and forth between whether pottery developed first in China or in Japan, as different sites are discovered, and dated or re-dated, it is widely accepted that pottery in Japan does go back at least as far as several millennia BCE, defining the Jômon period of Japanese prehistory. The term Jômon, meaning "cord marked," in fact comes from a description of the pottery decoration style of typical works of that period. Jômon pieces were worked entirely by hand, however, without the use of a potter's wheel, a technology that developed or was introduced in the Yayoi period.[2]

Seto wares were the dominant form in the late medieval period, up until the late 16th century, when Mino wares gained in commercial strength. Oda Nobunaga took steps to protect Seto potters by requiring Seto wares to be made in Seto - in other words, potters elsewhere in the archipelago were forbidden from copying Seto potters' techniques.[3]


  1. Delmer M. Brown (editor), The Cambridge History of Japan Volume One: Ancient Japan, 57.
  2. Kobayashi Tatsuo, Simon Kaner, and Oki Nakamura, Jomon Reflections: Forager Life and Culture in the Prehistoric Japanese Archipelago, Oxford: Oxbow Books (2004), 77.
  3. Gallery labels, Jidai wo tsukutta waza 時代を作った技 exhibition, National Museum of Japanese History, July 2013.
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