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Robert S.
Robert S., Appraiser
Category: Appraisals
Satisfied Customers: 7063
Experience:  20+ years of experience in appraisals.
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Fao Rarewares We also have a Japanese style vase from our

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Fao RarewaresWe also have a Japanese style vase from our parents and it has been in the family for years. Can you tell me something it please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It's not for a solicitor. It's an antique
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Is there anyone there?
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!

Hi! My name is ***** ***** I would be glad to help with your vase and translate the marks for you. Could you let me know how tall it is?

Many thanks,

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Robert, thanks for getting back to me!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Here are some pictures with a measure

Thanks for the extra pictures, however they did not attach.

Can you re-send?

Many thanks,


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do you have them now?

Yes! I have them now. That's all I need, I'll have a full answer and a value for you as soon as I can. No need to wait by the computer, you'll get an email with my response.

Many thanks,


You're quite correct, this beautiful vase is Japanese in origin and dates to the late 19th or early 20th century, a period known as the late Meiji period of Japanese history. Stylistically it is what was being produced from 1880 - 1912.

Those wonderful foo dog handles, or shi-shi as the Japanese call them are typical of the day, as is the decoration, the main panel of which shows an idyllic village scene with bijin (beautiful women) and their children in a springtime setting with cherry trees in full bloom under pine trees. It probably has another panel at the back depicting the local daimyo lord and his attendants.

Around the neck and shoulder are meticulously painted brocades, some with raised paste enamel jewelling known as moriage (pronounced 'more-e-ah-gay') all very typical of its day and done specifically for the insatiable export markets in the West where the 'new' Japonisme (as the French called Japanese decor) was all the rage. Interestingly, this type of decoration was almost unknown domestically in Japan at the time.

Specifically, it's what's become known as Kutani ware.

"Kutani" is both a type of ceramic (usually porcelain as yours appears to be, rather than earthenware) and a geographical region. It's named after a village called Kutani -that literally means "nine" (ku) "valleys" (tani)- where the original kiln was located, but now refers to a whole region of china making in the Hokuiku district of Honshu, the main island of Japan and now generally known as Kutani-yaki ("Kutani style").

The decoration is all hand painted in a rust red dominant palette embellished with gold, the gold-on-rust red known as kinrande.

The decorator's mark on the bottom starts with the two kanji characters for "Kutani" (read right-to-left in the old way, which attests to its age as after 1912 the Japanese changed to the Western left-to-right):

九谷 ku-tani (the first character is somewhat indistinct)

followed by three more characters that read (top to bottom):


which translates as: "Tajima made".

Although "Tajima" is a listed Kutani decorator, nothing is known about him other than the marks left behind on his wares. However, this is quite typical. There were truly thousands of decorators and almost none of them is a collected 'name' here in the west.

Examples of this mark do turn up occasionally on the secondary market (online auctions etc) and I found this example of a bowl from the same period also marked for Tajima, currently selling on Yahoo.Japan for about £125.

Sadly this late 1800s Japanese Kutani, beautifully hand-painted though it may be, is not as appreciated by a wide enough collector base for it to be as valuable as it should be and Japanese ceramics generally are in a bit of a lull compared to the market for the Chinese equivalent.

Nevertheless, this is a large and decorative piece and if you saw it for sale in a antique shop, say, it would have a full retail price of around £450. This is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

Expect to get 30% - 40% of this if you were to sell at a good local antique auction or on line on sites such as eBay.

So my advice would be to keep it and continue to enjoy it, and one day the great pendulum of fashion will swing back in favour of Japanese porcelain, and meanwhile, hopefully, it will always remind you of your parents who no doubt treasured it greatly.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Robert S., Appraiser
Category: Appraisals
Satisfied Customers: 7063
Experience: 20+ years of experience in appraisals.
Robert S. and 5 other Appraisals Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much! A much more detailed and interesting answer than I expected.

You're very welcome, thank YOU! And if you’d like my help in future on any other item, please don’t hesitate to ask. Just start a new Question and put "For Robert S....." in the subject line and it will be sure to get to me.

Best wishes,