The quaint village of Arita should be on any sightseer’s itinerary, but this is more than a mere beauty spot - its products have spread far and wide. If you plan to start collecting Japanese pottery as an investment, Arita-yaki makes a fine choice, particularly the Meiji style, which developed in the late 1800s and is famed for its exquisite detail and fine lines. Satoru Matsumoto is a 7th generation Meiji potter. The family’s history with Meiji porclain dates back 200 years, when the style first came to prominence and, understandably, he is passionate about pottery and preserving the traditions of his ancestors. Alongside his contemporary porcelain business, he has started to produce full Meiji sets. These sets are not sold for profit, but created to keep the tradition alive. Who better then to explain what to look for?
‘Be suspicious of anything too neat. Traditional Arita Meiji pottery is painted by hand using tiny lines and if all these lines are suspiciously straight, then the chances are the pot will have been decorated by machine and not worth anything to a collector.’
‘Beware anything cheap. Meiji pottery is an exercise in patience. Only two out of ten pieces survive the manufacturing process, even the highest skilled painter could only decorate two pieces a day and it takes six years of training before anyone can even begin to paint in the style. This all adds to the price and even here, where I do not make a profit on my Meiji pottery, the price reflects that. I have a complete set of my very best work which sells for ¥2.4m ($27,000), I’ve sold five.’
‘Look for a seal. There are only a few manufacturers of traditional Arita porcelain, and each one has their own seal on the backside of whatever they produce.’
‘It may be over 200 years old, but the style can adapt. I sell a lot of contemporary pottery through my shop, which is a lot less expensive than the traditional. It may have been designed for kings and queens, but Meiji can be available to everyone.’
ARITA PORCELAIN LAB details
1-11-3 Kamikouhira, Aritamachi, Nishimatsuuragun, Saga, 884-0003
Telephone +81 955 29 8079