Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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Korean Influence on Japanese Ceramics


This case features a group of ceramics from Japan and some display a connection with her neighboring country, Korea. Through trade and the exchange of emissaries, Japan and Korea have shared ideas, technologies and culture for centuries. Among these, ceramics, especially tea ware, is one of the areas that reveal the significant influence of Korea on Japan. In the late fifteenth century, one of the most popular pursuits among the elite class in Japan was a tea ceremony known as chado. As Zen Buddhism became widespread, the aesthetics favored in chado were simplicity and humility. Humble Korean daily ware, such as rice and soup bowls began to be recognized as ideal tea bowls by Japanese tea connoisseurs, instead of the luxurious and flawless Chinese imperial ceramics.

The influence of Korean ceramics began to be seen in the sixteenth-century Japan, but it wasn’t until after the Japanese invasion from 1592-1598 when widespread influence of Korean ceramics on Japanese counterparts began in earnest. Many Korean potters were forcibly relocated to several Japanese cities, especially on the island of Kyushu, after the military campaigns. They were credited with energizing ceramic production in Japan by incorporating new materials, techniques and aesthetics. As the Korean potters assimilated to Japanese culture and became familiar with local materials, their influences established trends which gradually evolved into something distinctively Japanese. Hagi ware, such as the tea cup displayed in this case, was believed to be developed by the Lee brothers from Korea. Hagi usually feature simple forms and uneven surfaces reflecting their coarse-grained clay, quick hand used in shaping them and thickly applied glazes, becoming one of Japan’s most prized tea ceramics, after raku tea ware.

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