chapter  7
16 Pages

Okuda Seiichi and the new language of ceramics in Taisho (1912–1926) Japan

WithSeung Yeon Sang

This chapter focuses on Okuda Seiichi, a pioneering scholar of ceramic history in modern Japan and the leading voice of the Saikokai and the Toyo Toji Kenkyujo. Modes of collecting, appreciating, and studying ceramics in modern Japan spawned a new set of terminologies. Newly coined terms of particular importance include toji shumi, kansho toji, and toyo toji. These three concepts are emblematic of the Taisho era and connote different strains of a trend that constituted a period of transition in the development of ceramic scholarship. The terms toji shumi and its equivalent, toki shumi, were coined in the late nineteenth century and gradually gained acceptance by modern tea men and their associates. These terms signaled a new age of ceramic collecting, appreciation, and research. In 1916, the Saikokai began with an innovative goal—“scientific appreciation of ceramics.” Hatakeyama Issei and Nishiwaki Saizaburo, both industrialists and modern tea connoisseurs, first proposed the idea of the Saikokai.