Our Collection: Blue and White Pottery Toilets

During the late Edo period (early to mid 19th century), aizome or indigo-dyed kimonos and sometsuke dishes from Seto patterned in blue and white became widely popular in the central city of Edo. The color combination was considered chic and stylish, and products in blue-and-white, with their crisp, refreshing impression, became something people admired and longed to have.

The boom continued in the Meiji period (1868-1912), and pottery toilets which were introduced around the beginning of the new era were also embellished in blue and white. These decorative toilets became exceedingly popular amongst the gentry with cultivated taste, who, as a part of hospitality towards their guests, wanted to transform lavatories into visually and spiritually clean spaces. Gorgeously designed toilets that could be called masterpieces were produced, some with the name of the famous potter inscribed in blue.

In our Blue and White Exhibition, we present a unique selection of exquisite sometsuke (underglaze blue, brush painted with smalt) pottery toilets, centered around the collection by Takashi Senba, an Ikebana artist and antique toilet connoisseur, which were actively produced in the early 20th century, before flush toilets were introduced. Please enjoy the display of elegant pottery toilet bowls, which portray the Japanese sense of elegance and beauty.