Ceramics and pottery are one aspect of Japanese art that has always flourished. It is believed that the early Joman period pottery, some dating back to 10,000 B.C., may be the oldest in the world. The people from this period hunted, fished, and gathered and used the pots primarily for cooking uses. In the Joman period, as well as present day, the focus of beauty in ceramics is the natural clay used as well as their firing technique.
Several other periods of time in Japan invited changes to ceramics. Modernization of ceramics occurred as Buddhism was brought to Japan. Advanced techniques for pottery were developed, and the Japanese also adopted several new styles, including Chinese three-color lead glazes, and high-temperature Korean firing. Both additions to the school of ceramics in Japan created an influx of exciting new shapes. In later years, a major source of influence in ceramics was the tea ceremonies which took place in Japan. These ceremonies influenced potters to make creations simplistic in shape and design. The sets of dishes potters created for tea ceremonies or for other purposes often reflected their belief that art should be asymmetrical. Sets were made in odd numbers including, three, five, and seven rather than an even number.
Edo period also provided a great deal of influence on potter’s creations.
In this 268 year period (1600-1868), new, dramatic designs were created.
New forms of ceramics appeared including porcelains bright with color.
Japanese practices in pottery developed throughout the period would
influence a great number of artists in European and American countries
in the twentieth century. The opening of Japan to the West did not harm
to the art of ceramics and practices were continued, as artists again
used innovative techniques with different clays, firings, and glazes.
Pottery is still an extremely vibrant part of Japanese art. Many exhibitions
take place during the year, and thousands of potters in Japan are able
to make a living from their art.