The first Japanese porcelains were painted with underglaze cobalt blue, called "old blue-and-white" ware (ko-sumetsuke). But by about 1640, overglaze enamels had been added to the palette. It is generally accepted that overglaze enamels were introduced to Kyushu from Kyoto rather than from China. One reason for this assumption is the use of a vibrant overglaze blue in both Kyoto ware and Japanese porcelains, a color not found in Chinese ceramics of that period.
The majority of Japanese porcelains are classified as Arita wares, based on the location of their production. This gourd-shaped bottle typifies the early enameled wares produced at Arita, and can be dated c. 1660-80. It is fairly thickly potted and painted with lively compositions that are carefully placed to flow across the surface. The leaves on the shoulder are yellow and green, the densely packed needles of the pine tree on the body of the bottle are dark green, the buds of the plum tree are yellow, and the cloudlike forms decorated with a basketweave-like pattern are red. As is often true of early enameled wares from Arita, the shapes are outlined using a fairly thick black enamel.