Kagoshima Arts & Crafts

Japan is well known for its rich cultural traditions and intricately detailed craft products. Kagoshima is no exception and having spent over a decade getting to know local musicians, artists, potters, kimono weavers, glass and lacquerware craftspeople, and a whole host of other creatives we are ready to help them tell their stories. Join us on a journey to meet the People of Kagoshima that pass on the traditional, create the modern, and find out what drives them to create the exquisite beauty of Japanese art and culture.

satsuma ware pottery

Satsuma-ware Pottery

The history of Satsuma-ware begins with the Japanese invasions of Korea during the Bunroku and Keicho periods (1592–1598). The 17th head of the Shimadzu family, Yoshihiro, brought Korean potters back to Kagoshima and had them produce fine white Shiro Satsuma, and the more rustic earthen coloured Kuro Satsuma pottery.

Towards the end of the Edo period (1603–1868) Shimadzu Nariakira ordered kilns to be built at his residence Sengan-en, producing a new, highly decorated form of Satsuma-ware which was designed to appeal to Westerners, and ultimately become a product for export. Modern Satsuma-ware was displayed at the 1863 Paris World’s Fair and 1873 Vienna World’s Fair to critical acclaim and became an early influence on the Japonism movement in Europe.

Satsuma Kiriko

Satsuma Kiriko is a kind of cut crystal glass first created in Kagoshima in 1851 by the 28th head of the Shimadzu family, Nariakira. By combining Chinese techniques for layering coloured glass, European cut glass patterns and the knowhow of craftsmen from the capital Edo, a new and unique kind of cut crystal glass was created.

With the death of Nariakira in 1858, and the destruction of the workshops during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, production of Satsuma Kiriko was stopped and the glass blowing and cutting techniques were lost for over 100 years.

In 1985, after painstakingly studying the original pieces, dedicated craftsmen brought Satsuma Kiriko back into production, and it continues to evolve today.

yakusugi cedar

Yakusugi Cedar

Yakusugi refers to cedar trees that grow naturally on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site island of Yakushima. Yakushima cedars commonly live for more than 2,000 years. To survive in a hot and humid environment, the trees developed an abundance of antibacterial resin, preventing against rotting and giving their wood a lustrous shine and gentle fragrance.

To be officially recognized as a Yakusugi product, the wood used must be over 1,000 years old. Since logging is now forbidden on Yakushima, only wood felled by natural causes such as typhoons or previous stock from the Edo period is used, making products made from Yakusugi highly valuable and sought after.


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