What Is Otagiri?
Otagiri Manufacturing Company was an importer of Japanese stoneware and ceramics between 1958 and 1994. Although Otagiri is the name of a company, the term is often used to describe a style of stoneware that was sold in West Coast department stores and souvenir shops. Particularly popular with collectors are the Polynesian-themed pieces.
Otagiri stoneware was produced and painted by hand by a group of artists hired to design and create pieces. Although Otagiri started manufacturing pieces in the 1950s, it did not officially register its name as a trademark until 1980. Although the company manufactured and stamped its pieces as made in Japan, the Otagiri trademark was registered in the United States.
Authentic Otagiri can be identified by a gold and yellow sticker and the stamp “Otagiri Japan.” In 1994, the company was sold to Enesco, another company known for manufacturing collectibles, for $3.5 million. Afterward, the brand was discontinued. Though true Otagiri pieces are no longer manufactured, items that resemble Otagiri pieces are still referred to as such. During its operation, Otagiri also acted as a third-party manufacturer, creating products for greeting card companies as well as the San Francisco Music Box Company, a once-popular mall store chain.