24 January 2023

What is Ko-Kutani Style ?

Kutani ware's charm is its heavy handed painting techniques, and Ko-Kutani ware (Old Kutani) is particularly powerful and captivating. The geometric patterns and realistic paintings on the ware's surface are like their own microcosms, stimulating the viewer's imagination.

The first overglaze porcelain pieces were regarded as Ko-Kutani style, allegedly the oldest style of porcelain painting. Ko-Kutani, which is said to have inherited the original style of Kutani ware, does not imitate Chinese techniques, but uses Japanese paints to create dynamic and extravagant paintings.

There are two Ko-kutani techniques: "Gosai-de," a method of painting using green, yellow, purple, navy, and red pigments, and "Ao-te," a method in which a ware's entire surface is covered with brightly colored pigments.


  • Gosai-de
  • Ao-te
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Gosai-de is characterized by the use of painterly and realistic depictions of its motif at the center of a ware piece. The artist's skillful brushwork is an attractive feature of this technique, and paintings look as though they have come from a Japanese folding screen or hanging scroll. Many masterpieces remain to this day–artfully depicting people, animals, and landscapes in the Chinese style. 


Ao-te is a unique style of painting representative of Kutani ware, and is distinct among other Japanese overglaze porcelains. Like Ko-Kutani, numerous Ao-te masterpieces were produced during the Edo period (1603-1868). The characteristic of Ao-te is that it covers the entire surface of ware pieces with vividly colored pigments, leaving almost no space for the painting. Another one of Aote's charms is its designs, which are drawn with strong, bold black contour lines.

Although the Ko-Kutani style is highly regarded around the world today for its originality, production once ceased only 50 years after its birth. To learn more about the secret story of Ko-Kutani ware's birth and the history of its revival, please refer to the following article.

More to Learn about the History of Kutani ware

The dynamic Ko-Kutani style pieces add a gorgeous flair to the dinner table. Since the patterns are quite impactful, we recommend adding accessories with Ko-Kutani designs as accents to a simple table. To purchase Ko-Kutani style items, please click here.

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