Vintage Japanese Kyoto Satsuma Sake Flask | Tokkuri | Signed Shochu | Showa Period –1950-60

Satsuma ware appears in different qualities, with the better and more elaborate of this kind being referred to as Kyoto Satsuma, in effect, Satsuma-style export ware.. All Satsuma was produced mainly for export to the West. The production was located in several cities: Kyoto, Tokyo, Nagoya, Yokohama and elsewhere, with Kyoto as the main center of production. The design on this piece is extremely detailed, and appears to be hand-painted. The elaborate polychrome enamels used are the standard rich blues, pinks, dark red, and gold ornamentation, which is standardly an indicator of good Satsuma ware. The images are not raise, but do have a fine textured surface.

There is no Satsuma seal, but there is a signature and stamp on the side of the piece that reads Shochu. After much research, we have identified the maker/company as being Satsuma Chuzo, who made this bottle when they changed the company name. The brewery specialized in making a highly fermented sweet potato sake/Shochu beginning in 1949. Condition: no chips, cracks or restoration. Today this bottle is highly prized by collectors of Sake servers, (serving containers). This extremely large Tokkuri measures 15-0” h x 6-0” dia.

Historical Information—

At the beginning of Meiji era, three artisans learned the skill of making Shochu with Kuro Koji, (Black Mold) from Ryukyu craftsmen formed the basis for the production of Shochu. The name “Satsuma” derives from the Satsuma province on the island of Kyushu in Japan. In the early 1600s, Korean potters were brought there to make pottery, which is where this style began.

The period just before the 19th century marked the first appearance of Satsuma ware that we generally associate with the term today. At first, Satsuma decoration was limited to a few basic categories like flowers and trees. The development of these new motifs in Satsuma coincided with the visits of Admiral Perry to Japan and the opening of that country to the West. In 1867, Satsuma was introduced to the world at the Paris International Exposition. It was immediately popular, and beginning almost immediately, Satsuma items were exported in huge numbers to the United States and Europe. By 1870, Satsuma wares were not only being made in their original home of Satsuma Province, but also in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and other locations. In particular, the majority of the Satsuma wares was made in Awata, which is a suburb of Kyoto.

By 1905, colors on Satsuma pieces were generally somewhat darker than in earlier times. Around 1915, three-dimensional lines were added with white slip. The result was that Satsuma ware from this period had lines resembling raised toothpaste, and was referred to as “moriage” ware. In the 1920s, a dark brown background appeared, mainly on chocolate pot sets, which were very popular in Europe. The 1930s saw the use of a slightly redder background. It is possible with some modern Satsuma to determine its exact point of origin in Japan.

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