Glossary

Technical terms and Japanese language phrases used in the HJCCC are presented here alphabetically. Each term is defined and those that describe elements present on HJCCC items link to examples along with the term definition.


A

Aizu-Hongo
- A ceramic center that encompasses Aizu-Hongo and Aizu-Wakamatsu in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan. Kilns in this area began producing porcelain around 1800 and these wares were exported to Tokyo and throughout the northeast part of Honshu. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Aizu-Hongo wares were also exported to the United States (Crueger et al. 2006:228). Aizu-Hongo teapots decorated with sometsuke peony motifs appear in American import catalogs from 1907 and 1916 (Van Patten 1997:11,16). Shark-skin glazed teapots, also likely from Aizu-Hongo, appear in 1914 and 1916 catalogs (Litts 1988:44; Van Patten 1994:37). Aizu-Hongo teapots appear to have come in dobin, kyusu, and teipotto forms.
Asagao
- Morning glory; literally "morning face," this small trumpeted flower is known for blooming primarily in the morning (Dower 1971:64).

B

Botan
- A peony. As a decorative element the botan flower can be difficult to distinguish from the chrysanthemum or lotus. It is often pictured alone or paired with lions or butterflies (Gorham 1971:209; Ross 2012:20).

C

Chawan/Jawan
- Literally "tea bowl;" however, in general use this term can be applied to a variety of similarly shaped bowls used for tea, soup, rice, or other foods (Crueger et al. 2006:285; Leland Bibb 2015, elec. comm.). When used in a sentence or preceded by adjectives, chawan is often converted to jawan for ease of pronunciation.
Choka
- Carving or incised decoration. Wooden, bamboo, or metal tools can be used to carve lines or bands into a vessel's surface before the paste has fully dried. Carved decoration like flowers are called obori, while incised lines are known as senbori. When carving creates a low-relief negative pattern by removing the background, this is called hirabori (Crueger et al. 2006:285; Simpson et al. 2014:60).
Cloud and Mountain
- Derived from Chinese precedents, this is a common motif found along vessel rims, especially on Phoenix Ware or ho-o bird designs (Oats 1984:18). For an example see Ho-o Zara.

D

Diapers
- Small, repeating geometric designs that cover an entire area of a vessel (Gorham 1971:220).
Doban or Doban Tensha
- Transferprinted decoration; decoration applied through transfer from copper plates (Ross 2009:156).
Dobin
- A type of teapot. Dobin are round-bodied with handles made of bamboo or other materials that attach to ceramic lugs on the top of the teapot. A slightly larger teapot, the dobin is traditionally used to serve tea at family meals (Cort 2000:230–231; Ross 2012:10–12).
Dobin No Futa
- A lid for a dobin-style teapot. Also see Dobin and Futa.
Don
- A dish that usually consists of rice, egg, and/or vegetables and meat. Don is traditionally eaten in a large, deep bowl with a lid; see Donburi (Costello et al. 2001:35).
Donburi
- A large, deep bowl used for soup or a dish called don (Costello et al. 2001:35; Simpson et al. 1980:83).

E

Etsuke
- Hand painting, either over (uwa-etsuke) or under (shita-etsuke) a glaze (Crueger et al. 2006:286). See Uwa-Etsuke and Shita-Etsuke for further information.

F

Fukizumi
- A decorative stenciling method. Pigment is blown or sprayed over a stencil, which is then removed from the vessel leaving voids in the pigment (Crueger et al. 2006:51, 286; Ross 2009:155). Sprayed pigment (Fuki-e) can be applied with or without stencils and is often used to produce shading effects known as bokanshi. Fuki-e methods have been used since the seventeenth century for cobalt-colored decoration, and since 1893 with other pigment colors (Jahn 2004:342).
Futa
- The general term for a lid, including bowl or jar lids (Simpson et al. 1980:94).

G

Gohan Chawan/Jawan
- A rice bowl. Many researchers refer to these as rice/soup bowls because they could be used for both foods (Bibb 2013:[4]; Costello et al. 2001:34). When preceded by adjectives, chawan is often converted to jawan for ease of pronunciation.
Gosu
- Pigment made of natural cobalt (~5% cobalt content). Historically, magnesium, iron, and aluminum impurities gave this glaze a greyish-blue tone (Crueger et al. 2006:286; Ross 2012:5). Around 1870, gosu was replaced by a chemically-produced and less expensive cobalt oxide (kobaluto) that creates a brighter, more intense blue (Jahn 2004:342). While most of the ceramics in this collection are decorated with chemically-produced cobalt, AACC-99-009 appears to have been hand painted with natural gosu pigment.
Guinomi
- A large sake cup (Bibb 2013:[4]; Gorham 1971:185). Some guinomi can be as large as small teacups.

H

Hajiki
- The general name for post-Yayoi (300 BC–300 AD) earthenware (Simpson et al. 2014:112). Unglazed earthenware is also known as doki (Crueger et al. 2006:284).
Hanjiki
- A low-grade or half-porcelain made of a cleaned, white clay that contains toseki (porcelain stone), whitening, and feldspar. Hanjiki is fired at the lower end of porcelain temperatures (1,200–1,250 degrees Celsius) and is described as "midway between porcelain and stoneware in appearance" (Crueger et al. 2006:287).
Hata
- Flag; can refer to Japan's national flag, which is officially known as Nisshoki (Dower 1971:112).
Hirabachi
- A large, shallow dish or plate (Simpson et al. 2014:87, 90).
Ho-o Bird
- The ho-o bird (also called houou) is a mythical creature, adapted from Chinese mythology, that incorporates parts of several creatures such as the rooster, mandarin duck, peacock, crane, and pheasant. This bird was often misidentified as a phoenix or a "flying turkey" by Western consumers in the early twentieth century (Ross 2012:20,23; Walter 2012:125, 129). Ho-o birds are the main decorative element on Phoenix Ware, vessels decorated with a sometsuke transferprint design that were popular exports from just prior to 1914 until the 1930s (Van Patten 1994:60); see Phoenix Ware.

I

Imari
- Although this term is somewhat ambiguous, Imari is generally used to describe porcelains produced at various kilns in the Saga or Nagasaki prefectures beginning in the seventeenth century. These early porcelains were decorated with gosu-sometsuke (natural cobalt pigment applied under the glaze) or iro-e (polychrome overglazes) designs and were transported to Japanese markets or exported overseas through the port of Imari (Shimura 2008:3-5; Jahn 2004:345).
Iro Doban
- Literally "Colored transferprint;" used here to describe polychrome pigments or pigment colors other than cobalt that are transferprinted under a colorless glaze (Ross 2009:156; 2012:8).
Iro-e
- The general term for polychrome enamels painted over a colorless glaze on porcelain, stoneware, or earthenware (Jahn 2004:343).
Iro-e Jiki
- Polychrome enamels hand-painted over a colorless glaze. Overglaze enamels are also used on stonewares, but iro-e jiki, or "colored porcelain," refers specifically to overglaze painting on porcelain (Wilson 1995:114–15,139–42). These wares are commonly fired to between 700 and 850 degrees Celcius (Crueger et. al 2006:288). Iro-e jiki experienced great popularity, particularly on export markets, during the Meiji and Taisho eras (Costello et al. 2001:35).
Iroyu
- A colored glaze. A few examples are seiji (Winter Green), kaki (persimmon), or kiseto (pale yellow) (Simpson et al. 2014:73).
Issei
- The term for Japanese immigrants who arrived in North America prior to the Immigration Act of 1924. This term is derived from the Japanese word for "first generation." Descendants of Issei are known by the terms Nisei (second generation), Sansei (third generation), and Yonsei (fourth generation) (Densho Encyclopedia 2017).

J

Janome
- A circular depression within the footring on a vessel’s base, sometimes called a "bulls-eye" or "snake-eye" recess (Ross 2012:10).
Jiki
- Porcelain; a ceramic material composed of kaolin clay, quartz, and feldspar that has been fired between 1,250 and 1,350 degrees Celsius (Simpson et al. 2014:112).

K

Kaede
- Maple tree; a decorative element associated with the beauty of maple leaves and fall (Dower 1971:62).
Kampin Tokkuri
- A type of sake decanter with a round body and tall neck that was popular in the Meiji era (Cort 2000:231).
Karakusa
- A tendril or "arabesque" pattern often found in background of ho-o bird (or Phoenix Ware) designs. This decorative element is often heavily stylized (Ross 2012:20,23).
Katagami
- Decoration applied by rubbing cobalt-colored pigment through a stencil (originally made of paper) to create a pattern of punctuated lines or dots under the glaze (Bibb 2001:5–6). Katagami vessels are often heavily decorated on both interior and exterior surfaces and frequently include yoraku designs along the interior rim. Developed in the Tokugawa era, katagami was most popular on Meiji-era mass-produced porcelains (Bibb 2001:5-6) prior to the development of transferprint technology, and had largely disappeared from the market by about 1920 (Ross 2009:156).
Kikkomon
- Turtle shell diaper pattern. See Simpson et al. 2014:72 and Sometsuke Katagami Mitsu-Domoe Kozara for examples.
Kiku
- Chrysanthemum; a popular decorative element and a symbol of the Japanese emperor (Walter 2012:125; Dower 1971:52).
Kikusui
- An export mark that features a chrysanthemum half submerged in water that is frequently paired with the English phrase "Trade Mark/Made in Japan." This mark has been identified at sites throughout the West that were occupied between approximately 1900 and 1945 (Burton 2005:96; Costello et al. 2001:33–34; Costello and Maniery 1988:27, 83; Ross 2012:25–26).
Kiri
- Paulownia flower; a three-leafed flower that is associated with the Japanese imperial family (especially the empress) and that was widely used by samurai families in the Tokugawa era. In Chinese mythology, the paulownia is the only tree that the phoenix will land on when it visits earth (Dower 1971:68-69).
Kobachi
- A small bowl, often used for side dishes (Ross 2012:10; Simpson et al. 1980:83).
Kohiki
- White slip decoration; usually applied by dipping the majority of an unfired vessel into white slip, which sometimes leaves finger marks in the glaze along the base of the vessel (Crueger et al. 2006:28,289).
Komori
- Bats. Gorham (1971:200) claims the use of bats as a symbol of future happiness is based on Chinese ceramics. Dower (1971:88) explains that this is because the second ideograph in the word bat can be read as fuku, which "can be written with an ideograph meaning good fortune." Bats were commonly paired with peaches on Chinese ceramics and this motif also appears on Japanese ceramics, though it is often executed in distinctive ways.
Kozara
- A small, shallow dish or plate (Ross 2012:10; Simpson et al. 2014:87).
Kumo
- Cloud; a frequently abstracted element in vessel borders and background designs. In Buddhist and Shinto symbolism clouds can represent ancestors or the spirit world (Dower 1971:40).
Kushime
- Combing. The surface of a vessel is incised with multiple parallel lines using a toothed tool, such as a bamboo comb or metal hacksaw blade (Simpson et al. 2014:58). This surface treatment can be purely decorative but is also used to create the grating surface of a suribachi.
Kyusu
- A small teapot designed for individual use. This teapot has a hollow handle that projects from the vessel side at 90 degrees from the spout (Costello et al. 2001:35; Ross 2012:12; Walter 2012:111).
Kyusu No Totte
- A handle for a kyusu-style teapot (Simpson et al. 2014:106–107). Also see Kyusu and Futa.

M

Mamezara
- A very small, shallow dish used to hold condiments or sweets (Walter 2012:128).
Matsu
- Pine; a decorative element that is associated with strength, prosperity, and longevity. Pine needles in pairs symbolize unfailing devotion (Gorham 1971:209–210; Ross 2012:20).
Meiji Era
- The years between 1868 and 1912. Named for the "enlightened rule" of the Meiji emperor who was restored to head of government at the end of the Tokugawa era (Gordon 2009:61). This era can be further divided into Early (1868–1885), Middle (1885–1895), and Late (1895–1912) periods.
Mingei Undo
- The Japanese Folk-Craft Movement. Founded in 1926 by writer and intellectual Yanagi Soetsu and potters Hamada Shoji, Kawai Kanjiro, and Tomimoto Kenkichi, this movement advocated for the reinvigoration of rural craft traditions and the incorporation of traditional Japanese asthetics into the design of everyday objects (Brandt 1996:9; Crueger et al. 2006:19; Jones 2014:143).
Mitsu-Domoe
- Threefold swirl. A domoe is a comma-shaped symbol drawn in a circular swirl pattern. Mitsu domoe feature three domoe, while the more common Yin-Yo (yin-yang) features two domoe in an interlocking swirl (Gorham 1971:220). Mitsu-Domoe often appear in association with Buddhist and Shino shrines and represent the interplay of the cosmos, the earth, and human kind; the Chinese yin-yang design represents the balance of feminine and masculine energy.
Momo
- Peach. Sometimes depicted alone as an auspicious symbol and sometimes paired with bats (Dower 1971:70). See Komori.

N

Nakazara
- A medium-sized, shallow dish or plate (Ross 2012:10; Simpson et al. 2014:87).
Namasu-Zara
- Pickle dish. A deep dish with a large footring that is used to serve pickled foods (Ross 2012:10). Many Meiji-era namasu-zara have scalloped rims and janome-style footrings.

O

Ochoko
- A small sake cup (Bibb 2013:[4]).

P

Phoenix Ware
- Phoenix Ware is a transferprint pattern that most commonly includes images of ho-o birds, karakusa tendrils, and paulownia and chrysanthemum flowers, along with several stylized rim designs (Dower 1971:52, 68-69; Oats 1984:18). Although the mythological ho-o bird is Chinese in origin, it came to symbolize imperial authority in Japan and is often combined with other imperial symbols like the paulownia flower and the chrysanthemum (Jahn 2004:343; Walter 2012:125, 129). This pattern was very popular on exports from just prior to 1914 until the 1930s and primarily appears on Western-style forms (Van Patten 1994:60). Despite is primacy as an export pattern, Phoenix Ware designs have been found at Japanese American archaeological sites (see Costello et al. 2001:33; Ross 2012:18). Also see Ho-o bird.

S

Saka-Bin
- A ceramic sake bottle (Bibb 2013:[4]). Often made of hanjiki or stoneware and covered in a bluish white or greyish white exterior glaze (Ross 2012:12).
Sakazuki
- The general term for a sake cup of any size (Bibb 2013:[4]).
Sakura
- Cherry. Cherry blossoms are common decorative elements on Japanese ceramics and represent the people of Japan; when combined with chrysanthemums they represent the unity of the Japanese people and the emperor (Walter 2012:123). As decorative elements, cherry blossoms can be distinguished from plum blossoms by their heart-shaped petals (Dower 1971:50-51).
Samehada-Gusuri
- See Shark-skin glaze.
Sansui Dobin
- Literally "Landscape teapot." This style of teapot is most often associated with Mashiko potteries and the Mingei movement. In 1938 a sansui dobin decorated by Minigawa Matsu gained international recognition by winning first place at the First International Craft Exhibition in Berlin (Crueger et al. 2006:220).
Sara
- A plate (Crueger et al. 2006:293). Used here to describe plates of indeterminate size or shape.
Seigaiha
- Blue sea wave diaper; a repeating pattern of overlapping semicircles that resembles the appearance of sea waves (Simpson et al. 2014:72).
Seiji
- A blueish-green glaze similar to Chinese Winter Green (Celadon) that is applied to both porcelain and stonewares (Crueger et al. 2006:64,293; Ross 2012:19).
Sekki
- A type of Japanese stoneware with a non-porous paste that is composed of colored clay and fired between 1,200 and 1,300 degrees Celsius. These vessels are impervious to liquid and so are often left unglazed (Crueger et al. 2006:287; Simpson et al. 2014:112).
Sen
- Coin (Dower 1971:108). Images of both Chinese and Japanese coins appear on Japanese ceramics as decorative motifs.
Senbori
- Incised lines or bands. These are often carved with a bamboo or metal tool while the clay is leather-hard (Simpson et al. 2014:60).
Seven Jewels
- Interlocking circles in a diaper pattern. See Ross (2012:21-22) and Sometsuke Katagami Mitsu-Domoe Kozara for examples.
Shark-skin Glaze
- Shark-skin glazes have a distinctive bumpy surface that is created by contraction and cracking of the glaze during firing. This glazing methods was popular at a number of potteries during the Meiji period, some of which began exporting shark-skin wares to America in 1885. This glaze can also be called same-gusuri or samehada-gusuri (Crueger et al. 2006:293; Ross 2009:159-160).
Shita-Etsuke
- Hand-painted pigments applied under a colorless glaze. Historically, cobalt, iron, and copper were the most frequently-used compounds in underglaze pigments. When cobalt-colored pigments are used exclusively on hand-painted porcelain, the resulting designs are classified as sometsuke. Iron and copper compounds are frequently hand-painted onto to stone- or earthenwares and produce brown to yellow (iron) or green (copper) decoration (Crueger et al. 2006:29,286; Simpson et al. 2014:69).
Sho Chiku Bai
- Known as the Three Friends or the Three Friends of Winter, Sho Chiku Bai is a decorative motif adapted from Chinese ceramics that incorporates elements of pine, plum, and bamboo. These three plants are associated with winter because pine and bamboo remain green and plum is among the first trees to flower in the spring. Together these elements represent the attributes of longevity (pine), scholarly and pure spirit (plum), and flexibility (bamboo) (Gorham 1971:2,010; Ross 2012:21). This design appeared frequently on porcelain of the Tokugawa era and its use spread to nearly all ceramic centers of the Meiji era (Jahn 2004:346).Sho Chiku Bai is not a direct translation of pine, plum, and bamboo (matsu, ume, and take in Japanese) but is rather the Chinese pronunciation of the Kanji characters, a fact that highlights the ongoing and reciprocal exchange between Chinese and Japanese potters.
Showa Era
- In Japan, the years between 1926 and 1989. This era began with the death of the Taisho emperor and encompasses the rule of his son, the Showa or "shining peace" emperor (Gordon 2009:165).
Soba Choko
- A small, straight-sided cup intended to hold sauce for soba or udon noodles. Cold noodles are dipped into the cup with chopsticks (Costello et al. 2001:36).
Sometsuke
- Exclusively cobalt-colored pigment applied under a colorless glaze on porcelain vessels. Sometsuke is frequently applied through stenciling (sometsuke katagami) or transferprinting (sometsuke doban) but unless otherwise specified refers to hand-painted decoration (Crueger et al. 2006:29,295).
Sometsuke Doban
- Transferprint using only cobalt-colored pigment, see Sometsuke (Crueger et al. 2006:29,295).
Sometsuke Katagami
- Stenciling using only cobalt-colored pigment, see Sometsuke (Crueger et al. 2006:29,295).
Sorori Tokkuri
- A type of sake decanter with a tall, slender body and a "tulip"-shaped rim or straight neck (Cort 2000:231).
Sumi Hajiki
- A decorative technique that uses areas of resist. Sumi Hajiki is created by applying ink under other pigments, which burns off when the vessel is fired, and leaves voids in the pigment (Wilson 1995:118).
Suribachi
- A mortar bowl with parallel incised grooves (kushime) on the interior that create an abrasive surface. Used for grinding sesame seeds into a paste or mixing miso with other ingredients. Brown glazes and slips are common exterior treatments (Ross 2012:13-14; Simpson et al. 2014:58,89).
Suyehiro
- Fan. Because of their expanding shape, fans can represent good fortune (Gorham 1971:222).
Suzume
- Sparrow. As decorative elements, sparrows are commonly paired with bamboo (Dower 1971:99).

T

Taisho Era
- The years between 1912 and 1926. This era began with the death of the Meiji emperor and encompasses the rule of his son, the Taisho emperor (Gordon 2009:127).
Take
- Bamboo; one of the more popular design elements, bamboo symbolizes strength, endurance, integrity, purity, and nobility. It is often accompanied by plum and pine (Sho Chiku Bai, or the Three Friends) or the phoenix and paulownia (Dower 1971:46).
Teipotto
- A type of teapot. Teipotto have Western-style handles and spouts that are attached to the teapot sides at 180 degrees from one another (Nakajima 1999:81). Teipotto are sometimes also called hama dobin. Hama is thought to be derived from Yokohama, a port engaged in Western trade in the Meiji and Taisho eras, and dobin are Japanese-style teapots used to serve tea at family meals.
Toki
- A type of Japanese stoneware with a slightly porous paste that is composed of colored clay and fired between 1,000 and 1,300 degrees Celsius. Because they are not completely impervious to liquid, toki vessels are generally glazed (Crueger et al. 2006:287).
Tokin Kodai
- "Helmet foot;" a type of vessel foot that has a raised cone in the center of its footring (Simpson et al. 2014:54).
Tokkuri
- The general term for a sake decanter of any size (Bibb 2013:[4]).
Tokugawa Era
- The years between 1600 and 1868. Named for the Tokugawa family, whose members served as the military rulers during this era (Gordon 2009:11).
Tsuki
- Moon; the moon consistently appears as a decorative element on ceramics and is sometimes associated with elegance or with poetry (Dower 1971:41).
Tsuru
- Crane. A symbol of good fortune, longevity, happiness, and friendship that is common on Japanese ceramics. For examples from archaeological contexts see Costello and Maniery (1988:58, 59), Paraso et. al (2013:5.22), and Walter (2012:127). For non-archaeological examples see Morse (1901:8).
Tsutsu
- Cylindrical. Japanese teacups come in a variety of shapes, from hemispherical to cylindrical. A shorter cylindrical cup can be described as an han-tsutsu-gata (low cylinder type) yunomi (Simpson et al. 2014:94).

U

Ume
- Plum tree; a common decorative element that is a symbol of womanhood or strength in adversity (Gorham 1971:210–211; Ross 2012:20).
Uwa-Etsuke
- Hand-painted enamels applied on top of a glaze. Overglaze enamels are common in a number of colors, such as green, yellow, blue, purple, and black. Historically, red (aka) was the most frequent overglaze color and the term aka-e (red painting) can be used as a general term for enamel painting (Crueger et. al 2006:286; Simpson et al. 2014:69).

Y

Yama
- Mountain; common decorative elements. Mountains are often associated with ambition and success (Dower 1971:42).
Yin-Yo
- Yin-yang; see Mitsu-Domoe.
Yoraku
- Literally "necklace;" yoraku are a style of rim design frequently found on the interior of katagami wares. Some of the more common variations include pendants, tassels, pendant triangles, and tassels with chrysanthemums (Ross 2012:21; Takenobu 1942).
Yunomi
- A teacup, either hemispherical or cylindrical (Ross 2012:10; Costello et al. 2001:36).