Sometsuke: Beauty of Blue and White Vessels

A “sometsuke” vessel, white porcelain decorated with various patterns by using blue pigments. Although its technology and design continue to change with the times, the beautiful combination of blue and white retains its unchanging charm. This time we will introduce a brief history and characteristics of sometsuke.

Table of Contents
1. What is “Sometsuke”?
2. Origin and Early Development
3. Changes during the Meiji Era and Spread Overseas
4. Modern Evaluation and Inheritance
5. Summary

What is “Sometsuke”?

“Sometsuke” is a porcelain decoration technique in which a pattern is drawn with a cobalt pigment called gosu, then glazed and fired. It also refers to the product.

The characteristic of Sometsuke is the contrast between deep blue and white. The blue pigment changes when it reacts with oxygen during firing, creating a unique color tone. They were also often combined with natural motifs such as flowers, birds, and landscapes to create unique and beautiful designs. Furthermore, quotations from Chinese poetry are sometimes incorporated into the design, richly expressing literary elements.

Origin and Early Development

Japanese sometsuke is said to have begun in the early 17th century under the influence of Chinese blue-flowered porcelain. After that, during the Edo period from the end of the 17th century to the 18th century, sometsuke rapidly spread in Japan. Demand especially increased in the Edo market, and printing decoration methods such as stencil printing and stamping appeared, and technology for making inexpensive products developed. During this period, sometsuke techniques and designs improved dramatically, and many outstanding works were created.

Changes during the Meiji Era and Spread Overseas

In the 19th century, Japan entered a period of change during the Meiji era. The international exchange had increased and the Western culture and technology had introduced. Sometsuke was also influenced by this and evolved while incorporating Western elements while preserving traditional Japanese elements. New designs and styles were born, and the appeal of sometsuke greatly spread to overseas markets.

Modern Evaluation and Inheritance

Sometsuke is still loved by many people even today. Its beautiful blue pattern and sophisticated design make it widely used as tableware and interior decoration. It is also exhibited at galleries and museums both domestically and internationally, and its value as a traditional Japanese craft is widely recognized. Many artists and potters are creating unique pieces by incorporating new approaches and ideas to meet modern needs while still valuing the tradition of sometsuke.


Sometsuke is a very popular style in Japanese ceramics that has its own unique presence. From its origins to the present day, sometsuke has continued to evolve while maintaining its beauty and uniqueness. The sophisticated design of blue and white patterns continues to fascinate our hearts as a symbol of Japanese aesthetics and culture.

Imoto Sangyo handles various types of ceramics, kitchenware, and daily necessities.
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