The birthplace of Okura Art China is the city of Kamata in an area of Tokyo commonly referred to as Shitamachi. This term originated in the Edo period and describes the riverside areas where artisans, craftsmen and merchants typically lived and worked. Kamata still resonates with this unique Shitamachi culture that can be felt in its traditional shops and narrow alleyways.
Today Okura Art China is based in Totsuka along the Kashio River near the major port city of Yokohama. Totsuka is mainly known as a residential area despite its solid base of small companies with advanced technology and unique products. For centuries, as witnessed by historical signposts around the city, it served as a rest station for travelers near the start of their 500 km walking journey from Edo to Kyoto along the famous Tokaido road.
The constant pursuit of excellence
Okura Art China was founded in 1919 at a time when the pomp and pageantry of state and royal banquets influenced the prestige of nations. Regretfully, for these important occasions, Japan was forced to import quality Western tableware from Europe. The founders of Okura Art China, urgently started to research manufacturing techniques and in 1922 introduced a confectionery bowl as their first product.
This bowl exhibited what would become the hallmark characteristics of Okura Art China porcelain ー whiteness, hardness and smoothness. In the following years, Okura Art China tableware was adopted by the royal palace and fine restaurants as they became recognized as a leading domestic producer of quality porcelain.
Okura Art China has been on a mission of “making good things even better” that has driven their artisans and craftsmen from the beginning. This pursuit of excellence was firmly instilled by the founders and guided Okura Art China to develop special techniques for painting, firing, embossing, etching and more – techniques that remain unrivaled today. The result is artisan tableware that is remarkably beautiful both when admired as an empty place setting or as the backdrop for carefully presented meals or drinks.
Exquisite artwork that touches our hearts
The highly trained artists at Okura Art China take heartfelt pride in using traditional brush techniques to hand paint intricate designs from classic patterns to seasonal designs.
The distinctive beauty is accentuated by the perfectly white porcelain that directs your focus to its contrasting colors and patterns. To achieve this incredible whiteness of color, Okura Art China relies upon the finest kaolin clay combined with advanced techniques such as firing at extremely high 1460℃ temperatures. This specialized firing process in a modern tunnel kiln also ensures that the porcelain becomes thin yet durable as well.
Okura Art China, as a traditional maker in the ceramics world, continues to hand paint intricate designs directly onto the clay to preserve their accuracy. However, they also developed an innovative technique with the introduction of the Blue Rose collection in 1928. Unlike in traditional painting, white clay that has already been fired is painted with cobalt blue and then fired again at the same high 1460℃ temperature. This causes the paint to sink deep into the underlying glaze, yielding soft tones of blue. This unique approach from 100 years ago is still used today to produce the signature Blue Rose and My Little Bear collections.
Beauty and tranquility in our everyday life
Traditionally, people have entertained guests with fine tableware at holiday celebrations and special occasions. Recently, however, people are spending more personal time in their homes and recognizing that artisan tableware can have a calming influence in their hectic daily lives. The simple beauty of artisan tableware can create a few magical moments at anytime that let the mind relax, recharge and refocus.
As a result, men and women who may not have considered artisan tableware in the past, are now buying a few pieces to enjoy while quietly reflecting by themselves or casually talking with friends. And, given the timeless designs of Okura Art China, it becomes easy to add matching or complementary pieces at a leisurely pace.
A hundred years ago, Magobei and Kazuchika Okura looked to the world for new ideas with an unyielding dream to “create the finest works of art.” Today, it’s the world that looks to Okura Art China for beautiful designs with a Japanese influence that can enrich people’s lives for years to come.
1927 Grand Prize at the 150th Anniversary of USA Independence Day
1937 Honorary Award at the Paris Universal Exposition