Export from Japan, which had no trading experience with Europe and the United States, developed significantly during the Meiji period, driven by kutani exports. In particular, the two active pottery merchants were Ennaka Magohei (円中 孫平) and Watano Kichiji (綿野 吉二). The former was a pioneer in the export market, and the latter was also an excellent producer of Meiji Kutani.
Ennaka Magohei (円中 孫平) was eager to apply overseas porcelain manufacturing techniques to kutani in the early Meiji period, and received technical guidance from Nōtomi Kaijiro (former Saga feudal lord who pioneered Japanese crafts and craft education) who was familiar with porcelain manufacturing technology, and made efforts to spread high-quality “Japan Kutani” to the world.
After that, “kutani made by Ennaka-group” gained a high reputation in Europe and the United States as it became popular as a luxurious product that was fine and used a lot of gold. Taking this opportunity, other pottery merchants also painted designs that quickly incorporated the tastes of Europe and the United States, and exports of Meiji kutani expanded dramatically compared to other ceramics producing areas.
In the latter half of the 10’s of the Meiji period (around the 1880’s), Watano Kichiji (綿野 吉二) took the lead in the export industry and actively responded to various issues while the boom of “Japan Kutani” went down and exports were sluggish. He was the first to catch the issue such as the fact that the cause of the slump in exports was the unpopularity caused by crude overproduction and the inability to respond to changes in foreign tastes, and he responded with the master craftsman Matsumoto Sahei (松本佐瓶).
Watano introduced a modern industrial system in the pottery industry to solve domestic problems, and in cooperation with Matsumoto, Fujioka Iwaha-do (藤岡 岩花堂), etc., provided education and guidance for painting to improve quality. Also, Watano and they created a qualification examination system for potters. On the other hand, Watano opened his own factory “Tenrai-do” (天籟堂) with kilns for baking picture and pattern, and gathered master craftsmen from Kanazawa and Nomi region to produce high quality products, and made an effort for further development of Meiji kutani.
⑤ sign of painter and brand name “kutani”