Japanese Kutani Ware Identification & Marks

Kutani ware is one of the major styles of Japanese ceramics, acquiring it's name from the village where the original kiln was built.  It originated in Ishikawa prefecture and the name translates as Nine Valleys with it's history going back to the mid 17th century.  Original Kutani ceramics, now referred to as Ko-Kutani are very different from the 19th century export examples which are most well known today.  It is important to remember Kutani is a region, not a specific factory, there were many different workshops using the Kutani mark. 

Kutani ware production was most prolific at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century following the opening up of Japan to western trade.  It is typically made from porcelain rather than earthenware and iron red and black line work often dominate the colour palette.  This style is known as Shoza and is what you are most likely to see today.

As pieces are still readily available basic examples of Kutani ware from the Meiji period are very affordable and creating a collection is relatively easy.  As usual high quality pieces can be very much more expensive and original Ko-Kutani now fetches princely sums.  Kutani continued to be made throughout the 20th century and continues today, modern copies and reproductions are common.  To check our stock of Kutani ware click here.

Marks are most often hand painted and may or may not include the artist or maker.  Impressed and incised marks are less common.  Unmarked pieces, or those simply marked Kutani are very common.  Low grade printed marks generally signify inter war or post war production.  Generic marks include.

Kutani: 九谷  

Kutani yaki (Kutani ware): 九谷

Kutani sei (Kutani made): 九谷製 

Kutani zo (Kutani created): 九谷造



 japanese kutani ware vases


Japanese Kutani ware vases decorated with quail and moulded handles.  Meiji period, 19th century c1878.  Signed to the base for Watano a merchant exporter of Kutani.


Kutani ware bottle vases Japanese Kutani ware vases decorated with birds and people obverse.  Marked Kutani zo  to bases in red script, circa 1900, late Meiji period.
pair of japanese kutani ware vases Pair of Japanese Kutani ware vases of tapering form.  Fine black line work and detailed painting of figures.  Meiji period, late 19th century.  Red script mark to the base for Kutani.
kutani porcelain cup and saucer A Kutani cup from a tea service.  Hand painted and sketched detail on eggshell porcelain in the Nagoya style but signed with a partial Kutani mark in red.  End of Meiji period c1900.



Generic Marks
antique japanese kutani ware mark Kutani zo: 九谷造 - Kutani created.  Hand scripted on a bottle shaped vase, Meiji period c1900.
Kutani ware mark Kutani sei: 九谷製 - Kutani made.  Hand scripted on a finely painted tea bowl, Meiji period c1870.
Kutani porcelain mark Kutani: Partial mark only, missing the symbol for Kutani.  Literal translation as 'Valley' Made in this form.  Mark from a late Meiji eggshell porcelain tea cup c1910.
kutani ware mark Kutani Yokohama: 九谷 横浜 - Hand scripted on a small vase with 1000 people design.  The second part of the mark is very poorly scripted but is likely intended as Yokohama.  Watano produced Kutani ware in the Yokohama region.
kutani no kuni mark on japanese porcelain Kutani Zo (on left) Kaga no Kuni (Kaga region - on right) - 九谷造 - 加賀国 - Kaga is the old prefecture name and porcelain from this region was called Kaga prior to the Meiji period after which Kutani became the preferred naming.
kutani porcelain from Japan Harujuki Sei 春之製 - Tentative transcription.  Hand scripted mark on a ewer taking inspiration from Royal Worcester.  Probably Kutani region late Meiji period.  Click mark to see the item.  Images by kind permission of Ecc.
Kutani ware occupied japan mark KS within a shield. Unidentified, possibly an agent or importers mark. Made during the occupied period 1945-52. Likely made by one of the former Kutani or Satsuma factories and in the dragon moriage style. Click mark to see full item.
Kutani Kumagaya Kumagaya Sei: 熊谷製 - using the central character in the circle it can also be read ク谷製 (Ku tani sei), possibly a deliberate double meaning.  'Great Japan' above.  Mark from inter-war period white porcelain cups and saucers with embossed gilt rims.  Image by kind courtesy of Erik A.
Kutani porcelain vase mark Kutani Kaburaki Sei no: 九谷 鏑木製之 - Hand scripted on a small vase dating to the late Meiji with bijin and extensive gilt.  Kaburaki was a merchant in Ishikawa and still operates as a retailer today.
japanese kutani porcelain Muraaki do: 村顕 堂  - Hand scripted on a pair of finely painted candlesticks of good quality.  A rarely referenced artist, Meiji period c1880.  This mark also sometimes found as Muraaki ga.
Onagaya kutani marks Onagaya zo - 尾長屋 造 - Tentative naming from a eggshell porcelain set in the 1000 chrysanthemum pattern.  Also reads Japan Yokohama on the right 大日 横浜. 
kutani mark Kutani Setsuzan (do-sei): 九谷 雪山堂製 - Kutani made by Setsuzan - hand scripted mark in iron red.  The mark from a small tray in the shoza style.  Meiji late 19th century.
Kutani ware by Shira Shira (Sei): 白製 - Uncertain, the character may be used for a number of names including Akira, Haku, Kiyoshi and may others.  Mark from a late Meiji vase with bijin having Satsuma style influence.
Kutani marks, Shoei later period (Kutani) Shoei (九谷) 彰栄 - Considered to be a small workshop operating post war c1955-75.  Few details are known currently.  Mark from a dish painted in the Taisho period Satsuma style and on a porcelain body.  Mark courtesy CK Adams.  Click mark to see the dish.
 antique kutani ware mark Watano sei: 綿埜 - Made by Watano - hand scripted mark in red.  The mark from a high quality vase with fine detail in the Shoza style. Meiji, 19th century c1880.


Yamazaki kutani ware Yamazaki Ga - 山下 画 (Painted by Yamazaki).  Hand scripted in dark red on a vase painted with a simple landscape scene, early Showa period.
kutani porcelain value and information Zenjou? do zo - 錢杖 堂造 Mark from a late Meiji vase, the name does not seem to be referenced and is of an unusual form, possibly Zenjou or similar in the On reading.  Also marked do zo (made in the workshop), further marked 九谷 (Kutani) on the right.