Yokohama, 30 km south from Tokyo, is a biggest and renowned port city of Japan. Not well known but this port city was once flourished as a city of porcelain decoration and the pieces had been exported world wide.
As the port of Yokohama opened in 1859, many commodities from Japan were demanded worldwide. One of the craved demand was a porcelain dinnerwares and artifacts with beautiful exotic paintings. To meet the demands, porcelain wares were gathered all over from Japan and various studios were soon established adjacent to the port for the porcelain painting and decoration. This is how Yokohama Porcelain had started.
Starting from Philadelphia International Exhibition 1876, the Yokohama Porcelain had always acclaimed a big praise and recognition at every International Exhibitions hosted in the Western world. At its peak in 1897, more than 800 craftsmen resided in the city as a painter who decorated the porcelain for USA & Europe market who awaited this beauty. The most famous studio & craftsman was Miyagawa Kozan. Many of his works are highly prized at various international exhibitions and still can be seen at the various museums in Europe & Japan. Indeed, the city was a major porcelain decoration hub in Japan at years before 1900. However, the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 destroyed various major studios and the Great Yokohama Air Raid of WW II in 1945 wiped out all the studios in the city, and the tradition of Yokohama Porcelain was known to be ended here.
In 1965 my father, Hiroshi Masuda, who wanted to revive this tradition of Yokohama Porcelain, founded the kiln & studio, Yokohama Masuda Gama . His aim was to decorate and merge East & West designs on the porcelain using a new technology and superb craftsmanship. Under this new flag, Yokohama Masuda Gama produced an original design manufactured dinnerwares for renowned brands & customers worldwide. Masuda also worked on producing dinnerwares which reflects the uniqueness of the city .In fact this Yokohama Porcelain by Yokohama Masuda Gama was well received as a brand which promotes and inherits the spirit of Yokohama among many people. However, the economy environment of the market had changed dramatically past years, Yokohama Masuda Gama kiln & studio was forced to close on 2015.
And now myself, Hiro Masuda, who also worked with my father and at the kiln for over 30 years, remains as a last porcelain decorator of Yokohama Porcelain. As the city and the world changes with accelerating speed, many things disappear and are forgotten. But something must be spoken out, be inherited, and be reconstructed : where do we come from, what are we, and where are we going? These upon my mind, today I paint and design the porcelain which continues to enamel the spirit of Yokohama Porcelain under a new studio Masuda Arts & Crafts.
The History of Yokohama Porcelain
- 1859 Port for International trading opens at Yokohama.
- 1871 Kozan Miyagawa establishied kiln and studio in Yokohama. Many other Yokohama Porcelain studio & kiln started at this time.
- 1876-1893 Yokohama Porcelains exhibited at Philadelphia, Paris, Chicago International Exhibitions. Highly acknowledged & praised by the world.
- 1896 Kouzan Miyagawa appointed as a member of Imperial Members of Arts of Japan.
- 1897 Yokohama Porcelain at its peak : 800 painters resided in the city.
- 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake
- 1945 Great Yokohama Air Raid of WWII : destoryed all kilns & studios. End of Yokohama Porcelain
- 1965 Established Yokohama Masuda Gama to revive new Yokohama Porcelain
- 1979 USA Franklin Mint original plates production becomes a corner stoneexport business for Masuda.
- 1988 Masuda’s Gold Sakura Plates Collection was chosen as a gift to the USA President Mr. Regan from the Japanese Governnment.
- 1991 Dinnerware Collection by Lynn Chase Design,USA , which Masuda produced was awarded Gold Prize at New York International Tabletop Show.
- 2010 Production of APEC JAPAN 2010 Commemoration Plate for 21 representatives attending the meeting commissioned by the city of Yokohama.
- 2015 Closing Yokohama Masuda Gama kiln & studio.
- 2016 Established Masuda Arts & Crafts to restart as the last porcelain decorator of Yokohama, enameling spirit of Yokohama Porcelain.
Five Articles of MASUDA ARTS & CRAFTS : Manifesto
❶ In accord with tradition of Yokohama resident (Hamakko) who is famous for preferring something new and authentic, we will provide customer “cool” thing & event.
❷ In accord with tradition of Yokohama ‘s society which is famous for valuing humanity, charity, and human like smartness( Iki ), we will simply perform this up to the level that our customer will point out , indeed this is “Yokohama Spirit “ itself.
❸ In accord with art & craft tradition of Yokohama, we, “the last decorator of Yokohama Porcelain,” will inherit & reconstruct the tableware .
❹ In accord with tradition of Yokohama being a port city, we will “interpret” the oversea culture & philosophy to the domestic customer, and vice versa.
❺ In accord with tradition of wisdom from Yokohama where diversity of race resides, we will absorb anything we feel true through our filter, regardless of race, age ,class, nor ideology, and create something “unique” which will upgrade the quality of customer’s daily life.