About the Historical Japanese Ceramic Comparative Collection

The Historical Japanese Ceramic Comparative Collection (HJCCC) contains digital photographs and resources for identifying and describing Japanese ceramics manufactured during the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa eras (roughly the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). This collection provides researchers with comparative examples of Japanese ceramics that are found on North American archaeological sites. The HJCCC is intended to assist in identification of historical Japanese ceramics, to encourage the use of standardized terminology, and to promote further research.

The collection was created by University of Idaho Historical Archaeology Ph.D. Candidate Renae Capmbell as part of her 2018 CDIL Digital Scholarship Fellowship. She received assistance with coding, processing, and design from Evan Williamson, Jessica Wilson-Saia, Kevin Dobbins, Corey Oglesby, Olivia Wikle, and Devin Becker. The site template is based on the CollectionBuilder project being developed by University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives.


Many of the ceramics in this collection originally belonged to a diverse group of Japanese laborers, families, and American citizens who arrived in North America between approximately 1880 and 1924 and who are collectively known as Issei (Densho Encyclopedia 2017). These items are material remnants of the nineteenth and twentieth-century Japanese ceramics industry, lingering evidence of international trade and migration, and components of daily life that contribute to a more complete understanding of the Issei experiences in North America.

Much of the material on this website is drawn from my master’s research in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Idaho. This research examined collections of Japanese ceramics from archaeological sites in Washington, Oregon, and California that were occupied by Issei between 1903 and 1942. My thesis (Campbell 2017) proposed the working typology for Japanese ceramics that I use on this site and contributes to a growing body of research on the Japanese diaspora. Sources for learning more about the historical background of the Japanese ceramics industry, Japanese migration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Japanese diaspora sites in North America can be found in the References Cited below.


The HJCCC features examples of historical Japanese ceramics that are likely to be found on archaeological sites in North America. Although not exhaustive, this digital collection is designed to be a collaborative archive that will grow over time. In order to represent a more diverse selection of ceramics, HJCCC items are compiled from multiple sources.

Roughly half of the items in the HJCCC are from Japanese Gulch Village, an archaeological site near Mukilteo, Washington, that was home to Japanese sawmill employees and their families between 1903 and 1928. Excavations at the site in the early 2000s recovered a collection of materials, including Japanese ceramics, that are now housed at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle (White et al. 2009). The Japanese Gulch Village collection is held in trust on behalf of the U.S. Air Force.

The remainder of the ceramics featured in this digital collection are from the Asian American Comparative Collection (AACC) at the University of Idaho. The AACC maintains a comprehensive collection of Asian-manufactured objects that have been, or are likely to be, found in archaeological or museum contexts in the western United States. Unless otherwise noted, AACC objects are comparative examples of historical Japanese ceramics that did not come from archaeological sites.


The ceramics in this collection are classified according to Japanese nomenclature. By incorporating Japanese terms, HJCCC terminology attempts to match the way that the Japanese ceramics industry describes their products and the way that Issei communities would have understood the vessels that are featured in this collection. The HJCCC classification system was developed in collaboration with Japanese ceramics expert Leland Bibb (Campbell 2017a, 2017b) and continues to grow with the input and assistance of other researchers. An abbreviated typology for ceramic forms can be seen on the Forms page, and full definitions of Japanese terms can be found in the HJCCC Glossary.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are welcome at rjcampbell@uidaho.edu.


This research was supported in part by the University of Idaho’s John Calhoun Smith Memorial Fund, the Asian American Comparative Collection at the University of Idaho, and a Summer Research Fellowship at the Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning. Research was facilitated through the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, the US Air Force, and the University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives.

Priscilla Wegars, volunteer curator of the Asian American Comparative Collection at the University of Idaho Laboratory of Anthropology, served as peer reviewer for the collection. Japanese ceramics experts Leland E. Bibb and Louise Allison Cort offered information and expertise invaluable to this research. Yuumi Danner and Koji Lau-Ozawa provided Japanese translations and advice. The information presented on these pages also owes a great deal to other researchers whose works are cited below.


The full descriptive metadata can be downloaded as a CSV spreadsheet or JSON export. The data can be subsetted and downloaded as CSV or Excel from the data table.


This website was created by UI Library's Digital Initiatives using the open source static site generator Jekyll. The basic frame work is created using Bootstrap and jQuery. Document metadata is exposed using DCMI, Schema.org and Open Graph protocol standards.

Last build date: 2020-10-07

More About the Collections

Many of the artifacts on this site are from the Asian American Comparative Collection (AACC) at the University of Idaho. More examples of artifacts held in this collection can be seen at the AACC Artifact Illustrations page.

Japanese Gulch Village artifacts are part of the Culture Collections at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Learn more about the fascinating collections in recent articles "The soles of the Japanese Gulch" and "Connecting with Japanese Gulch Artifacts".

References Cited in the HJCCC

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Bibb, Leland E. 2013 Japanese Ceramics for a Japanese American Farmstead in Gresham, Oregon. In Cultural Resource Investigation for the Proposed Gresham Vista Business Park, Multnomah County, Oregon, by Kanani Paraso, Renae Campbell, David V. Ellis, Donald Shannon, Matt Goodwin, Todd Ogle, Daniel Gilmour, and Andrew Huff, Appendix E. WillametteCRA Report Number 12-06. Prepared for Port of Portland, Oregon. Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Portland, OR.

Bibb, Leland E. 2007 Pre-1921 Use of Mark "Made in Japan." Asian American Comparative Collection Newsletter 24 (2):5–6.

Bibb, Leland E. 2001 Japanese Stencilwares of the Meiji and Taisho Eras. Asian American Comparative Collection Newsletter 18 (1):5–6.

Bibb, Leland E. 1997 Japanese Ceramics from the Home Avenue Dump, San Diego, California. Manuscript on file, Asian American Comparative Collection, Moscow, Idaho.

Bowes, James Lord. 1882. Japanese Marks and Seals. Part I. Pottery. Henry Sotheran and Co., London.

Brandt, Lisbeth K. 1996 The Folk-Craft Movement in Early Shôwa Japan, 1925–1945. Doctoral dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI.

Burton, Jeffery F. 2005 The Fate of Things: Archeological Investigations at the Minidoka Relocation Center Dump, Jerome County, Idaho. Western Archeological and Conservation Center Publication in Anthropology 90. National Park Service, Tucson, AZ.

Campbell, Renae J. 2017b Connections and Distinctions: Historical Archaeological Analysis of Japanese Ceramics Recovered from Three Issei Communities in the American West, 1903–1942. Master's thesis, College of Graduate Studies, University of Idaho, Moscow. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Campbell, Renae J. 2017a Reanalysis of Japanese-Manufactured Ceramics Recovered from Japanese Gulch Village (1903–1930), Mukilteo, Washington. Archaeology in Washington, Volume 17: Archaeology of Japanese Americans.

Cort, Louise Allison. 2000 Shigaraki: Potter’s Valley. Weatherhill, NY.

Costello, Julia G., Judith Marvin, Scott Baker, and Leland Bibb. 2001 Historic Study Report for Three Historic-Period Resources on the Golf Club Rehabilitation Project on US 395 near Bishop, Inyo County, California. Prepared for Department of Transportation, District 9, Eastern Sierra Cultural Resources Branch, Bishop, California under Contract No. 06A0242 Task Order No. 4. Prepared by Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA.

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Dower, John W. 1971 The Elements of Japanese Design: A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry, and Symbolism. Walker/Weatherhill, NY.

Foster, Michael Dylan. 2015. The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore. University of California Press, Oakland, California.

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Litts, Elyce. 1988 The Collector's Encyclopedia of Geisha Girl Porcelain. Collector Books, Padukah, KY.

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Oates, Joan Collett. 1984 Phoenix Bird and Chinaware: A Collector’s Encyclopedia of Its Past—Its Pieces—Its Potteries. Book One. Self-published by Joan Collett Oates and Kenneth Roy Oates, West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Paraso, Kanani, Renae Campbell, David V. Ellis, Donald Shannon, Matt Goodwin, Todd Ogle, Daniel Gilmour, and Andrew Huff . 2013 Cultural Resource Investigation for the Proposed Gresham Vista Business Park, Multnomah County, Oregon. WillametteCRA Report Number 12-06. Prepared for Port of Portland, Oregon. Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Portland, OR.

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