An Outline of Miyagawa Kozan and his Works

By: Kazuo Seki and Kazuo Yoshida

Translated by: Billy Hammond

The tumultuous changes of the Meiji Era... In the world of pottery, there was an artisan who led the field from the start of the period to the very end (1868 - 1912). That craftsman was the first generation Miyagawa Kozan. Let us trace the lineage of this line of pottery from the first generation, Miyagawa Kozan.

The family lineage of Miyagawa Kozan, which came to be called Makuzu Kozan based on the name of Makuzu-yaki is as follows:

First Generation Rakuchouzo
Chawanya Nagaheiei
First Generation Makuzu Kozan
Toranosuke (1842-1916)
Second Generation Makuzu Kozan
Hannosuke (1859-1940)
Third Generation Makuzu Kozan
Kuzunosuke (1891-1945)
Fourth Generation: Makuzu Kozan
Tomonosuke (1884-1959)

The first generation Miyagawa Kozan, Toranosuke, was born in Kyoto into a potter's family as the 4th son of Nagaheiei (Makuzu Chozo) in 1842. Toranosuke continued his family business; however in 1871 he moved to Yokohama to found his own kiln and become the first generation, Miyagawa Kozan, a family that continued through the fourth generation.

Let us examine the lineage of the first generation, Miyagawa Kozan by examining those works for which the creation dates can be determined. We know that his work, the "Insect Colored Keg (camphor tree valley design) was made in 1871 from the inscription. The first generation Miyazawa Kozan of the early Meiji Era created this work having been guided by the Mushimei kiln of Bizen and this is also often seen in other illustrations from Kyo-yaki kilns towards the end of the Edo and beginning of the Meiji Periods.

The pottery technology and skills that the first generation Miyazawa Kozan acquired can be said to be those that were transmitted within his family and were those that were current in Kyo-yaki at the time.

The first generation Miyazawa Kozan moved to Yokohama in 1871 and thereafter created works in his Makuzu Kiln. At the time, china and porcelain were leading export items and products designed for export were being created in areas throughout Japan in keeping with national policy. The Makuzu Kiln was also turning out many products with intricate and delicate designs of the Satsuma-yaki style.

A piece representative of this period is the "tan glazed crab bowl" created in 1882 and displayed at the 2nd Domestic Commerce Promotion Exposition. However, just around this time the china and porcelain export industry was beginning to experience a slump and products that were done in the popular Satsuma style had begun to lose their appeal.

The first generation Miyazawa Kozan transferred his Makuzu Kiln to Hannosuke in 1888. However, he continued to be active in production even after his retirement.

The changes in the style of the first generation Miyazawa Kozan can be first confirmed in the piece exhibited at the Chicago Exposition in 1894 (Plum blossoms vase).

By this time, the Makuzu style had been established based on the development of Western lacquer technology and the designs of Chinese pottery. This is evident in the underglazes in his pottery around this time.

The first generation Miyazawa Kozan received many awards throughout the Meiji Period and was appointed as an Artisan of the Imperial Household in 1892, which was the definite pinnacle of the world of pottery at the time. He continued to produce works of art until his death in 1916.

It was necessary to single out works of the first generation Miyazawa Kozan in compiling this article. Let us look at the "underglazed colored insect design vase", which illustrates the standards of his works. There is a label stating that this piece was acquired by Ishikawa Prefecture in 1895 and from it, it is thus possible to determine that it is a work done by the first generation Miyazawa Kozan.

Note the character "kou" in the underside signature. There is a cursive habit in the "nogi" radical. This same flair in the signature can be seen in the piece exhibited in 1890 as well as the "Blue Frozen Plum Vase" purchased by the Imperial Household. Looking at the signature on the box of a piece done in 1916, we can see that this flair in his signature was still present, confirming that it had not changed at that point close to the end of his life.

This article examines those pieces that exhibit the same type of underglaze styles that bear his signature centering on his cursive style during this period. The majority of these bear the same type of signature as the "Colored Wisteria Jar" that was purchased by the Sumitomo family.

The trends that swept this period of Westernization and cultural development that influenced the first generation Miyagawa Kozan can be seen in these works. It can be said that the creations and flavor expressed by the works of the first generation Miyazawa Kozan were "Kyo-yaki" developed in the port town of Yokohama.

The authors wish to express their thanks to the many public organizations and individuals who cooperated in the production of this article. In particular, Mr. Do of the 2nd floor of the Yokohama Art Museum gave many helpful comments regarding Kozan and Mr. Suzuta of the Kyushu Pottery Cultural Center provided much valuable information on the underglazes.

This article is also available at Mr. Seki's site,

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Copyright 2002, Kazuo Seki and Kazuo Yoshida. Translator's copyright: Billy Hammond. Reproduction Prohibited.