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Thu, Jun 9, 2022

Imperial masterpieces associated with Aichi on display at Seto City Art Museum

The Seto City Art Museum in Aichi Prefecture and the Imperial Household Agency are hosting a special exhibition featuring traditional craft masterpieces associated with the city — famous for its Seto-yaki or Setomono (Seto ware) — and prefecture from The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan (The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo).

A pair of vases with flower and grass design, overglaze enamels
Kanzan Denshichi
Meiji era, late 19th century
The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan

The exhibition, titled “Imperial Masterpieces ⁠– Supreme Crafts Related to Aichi –” and held with special cooperation from the Tsumugu Project, has opened at the art museum in Seto and will run until July 31, 2022. Some of the exhibited items are on public view for the first time.

Imperial Masterpieces ⁠– Supreme Crafts Related to Aichi –

Jun 4 (Sat) – Jul 31 (Sun), 2022

Seto City Art Museum
(Seto, Aichi Pref.)

*See outline below for details

The Seto area, known for its production of fine clay and firewood, has been a center for ceramic production since the 13th century and is often referred to as one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns (Echizen, Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Tamba and Bizen). The six pottery-producing areas were collectively registered as Japan Heritage sites in 2017. It should be noted that Seto ware became so well known that the word setomono we use today is synonymous with ceramics in general.

A pair of vases with flower and grass design, overglaze enamels (detail)

Among the masterpieces on display are works of Kyo-yaki (Kyo ware) polychrome porcelain by Kanzan Denshichi (1821-90), who hailed from Seto and later became known as the first ceramist in Kyoto to use the Seto climbing kiln and specialize in porcelain production. The then Imperial Household Ministry purchased Kanzan’s works. A pair of vases depicting elaborate flowers and birds with polychrome glaze (top photo) is said to have been a gift from Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) to Prince Yoshihito (later Emperor Taisho, 1879-1926).

Tableware set with flower and grass of the four seasons design, overglaze enamels
Kanzan Denshichi
Early Meiji era
The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan

A set of Japanese tableware produced by Kanzan on order from the Prince Arisugawa family (one of the branches of the Imperial family) in the early Meiji era is another masterwork on display. The set comprises 12 types of vessels (bowls, sake wine bottles, green tea bowls, food plates, cake plates, etc.), each piece decorated with brightly colored flowers and grasses. The Sannomaru Shozokan says the set manifests “the highest quality of Kyo-yaki techniques of the time, and can be considered as tableware combining beauty and utility.”

The exhibition also features works of Owari shippo (Owari Cloisonne enamelware), a traditional craft that has its origins in the cities of Ama and Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture.

The Sannomaru Shozokan, which houses about 9,800 works of art passed down in the Imperial family, has been putting on exhibitions in various parts of Japan since fiscal 2021 to highlight the Imperial household’s affinity with local traditions.

From the Seto City Art Museum website

From June 4, the Seto City Art Museum is exhibiting masterworks from Sannomaru Shozokan, the Museum of the Imperial Collections, to celebrate its 40th anniversary in a special exhibition entitled The 40th Opening Anniversary Special Exhibition of Seto City Art Museum: Imperial Masterpieces — Supreme Crafts Related to Aichi — from the Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan.

Sannomaru Shozokan manages, preserves, and exhibits works of art that have been passed down from generation to generation in the Imperial Household, and in this exhibition presents a selection of works closely connected to Seto and Aichi prefecture from this superb collection. The exhibition features works by artists deeply connected to Seto who were either born in or had their kilns in the area.

The exhibition also features Owari Cloisonne enamelware, a traditional craft from Aichi that has not only been appreciated in Japan, but has earned high praise abroad as well.

Some of the works introduced in this exhibition have never been exhibited at Sannomaru Shozokan before, and will be on display for the first time in this exhibition. We hope that you will enjoy the exhibition’s many masterworks, in which the artisans of Seto and Aichi have poured their heart and soul.

Outline of the event


Sat, Jun 4, 2022〜Sun, Jul 31, 2022

Imperial Masterpieces ⁠– Supreme Crafts Related to Aichi – from the Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(Last admission 4:30 p.m.)

Museum website


Seto City Art Museum

Seto City Cultural Center
113-3 Nishiibara-cho
Seto, Aichi Pref.


Adults: 500 yen (400 yen)
University/High school students: 300 yen (240 yen)

*Seniors (age 65 or older), Junior high school students or younger, pregnant women, persons with disabilities holding certificates: Free
(     )→Per person in groups of 20 or more visitors

Closing day

Jun 14 (Tue), Jul 12 (Tue)


Tel. 0561-84-1093



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