Otagiri Mercantile Company
OTAGIRI MERCANTILE COMPANY (early 1946 -1994)
Otagiri Mercantile Company, headquartered in San Francisco, was a Japanese-American manufacturer of stoneware ceramics that started in 1946. The stoneware was produced by a small group of artists who hand painted and glazed an array of forms and decorations.
The Otagiri Mercantile Company was established by Chiyoko and Goro Otagiri after their return to Japan in 1947 and following their release from an internment camp for Japanese Americans.
Chiyoko Otoguro Otagiri was born on May 27, 1905, in a farming family, in Cupertino, California. Her family sent her to Japan for education. She returned when she was 18, and married Goro Otagiri from San Francisco. Chiyoko and Goro had three children. They were incarcerated in the Topaz (Central Utah) concentration camp during World War II. After their release, they moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Goro worked as a Japanese teacher for the Navy.
When Otagiri was active, it was also a third-party manufacturer for the San Francisco Music Box Company, which was once a popular chain store. It also created products private label for other manufacturers for greeting and gift store brands. Original Otagiri Ceramics carry the initials "OMC", and ‘Japan’ on an artistic yellow and gold sticker, or a sticker with the words "Hand Crafted Otagiri Original" and "Japan" at the bottom.