Museum tour in English: modern Japanese ceramics (Friday Jan. 20)


Picture plate in the “new Majolica style” (1905) by Itaya Hazan (1872-1963). Collection of Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives.

Please join me at the Shoto Museum of Art in Shibuya on Friday January 20, 2017 when I’ll give a guided tour in English of Ceramics Japan: Tracing Japanese Modern through Ceramics. The tour will begin at 6:30 pm and is free with regular museum admission (500 yen for adults, less if you’re a student or over 60).

The exhibition provides an excellent overview of Japanese ceramics in the modern era, which is to say from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 until the end of World War II. It covers everything from the export ceramics that set off the Japonism boom in the West to what was made in Japan during the war, a topic rarely covered. The focus is on design, and the very deliberate way Japanese ceramic designers first responded to foreign tastes and trends, and then set about searching for a unique Japanese aesthetic for ceramics.


Lidded pots with mythical shishi lions, decorated in Tokyo in the Satsuma style by Niimura Tomezo in gold and overglaze enamels. Early Meiji period/late 19th century. Private collection.

If you’ve been on my museum tours before, you know they are lively and informal. I try to keep keep things accessible for total beginners while offering new information and insights for those who may be already deep into the subject matter. There are lots of cool and unexpected things to see in this exhibition, including the first Western-style dinner set successfully made in Japan (the “Sedan” pattern made by Nippon Toki, which later became Noritake) and the sort of sink made in the 1920s for oh-so-modern multi-family dwellings like the famous Dojunkai apartments in Omotesando.


I love these dishes designed by Hino Atsushi and manufactured by Okura Toen in the 1920s using a traditional maki-e etching technique Private collection.

Advance reservations are not necessary, and it’s fine to just turn up if you can. But it’s helpful to me if you let me know you’re coming so I have an idea of how many people are coming. You can do that through the contact form on this blog, by leaving a comment or by email to gordenkeralice(at) Hope to see you there! The Shoto Museum is about a 15-minute walk from the Hachiko exit of Shibuya Station, and closer to Shinsen Station on the Keio Inokashira Line.


Ceramic tiles were introduced in Japan as a novel building material and became popular after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 because they were seen as modern and safer. Colorful tiles like this were made by many companies, including Danto Kabushiki Kaisha in Osaka.

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2 Responses to Museum tour in English: modern Japanese ceramics (Friday Jan. 20)

  1. Anthony says:

    It sounds interesting and I wish I could join you. Alas, I am several thousand miles away.
    Hope the tour is a success.

  2. Thomas Gittel says:

    Dearest Alice,

    Of course, I’ll come! Naturally! Wouldn’t miss this for all the tea in China (but then, I’m also not too fond of Chinese tea… )

    Do you know already, if there will be a chance to take pictures in and of the exhibition? If so, I’ll bring my camera along – if not, I’ll bring it along anyway.

    Cheers & hugs! Thomas

    *Visit / Besuchen Sie: „Ways to Japan“* / *Alphabetic/Alphabetische Navigation:* /

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