China painting is a popular hobby in the United States and Europe, and is gradually gaining followers over here as well. A characteristic of porcelain art is the paints used -- made by mixing powdered minerals such as iron, copper, uranium and so on.

Sun Art Studio, now exhibiting the work of seven of its instructors and graduating students, is one of the leading institutions of china painting in Japan. The usual course takes about six years, after which you are certified to teach at the studio.

"The world of porcelain painting is profound, because you can make all sorts of dishes, from modern to antique," says Shizuko Wakikawa, one of the teachers.

Wakikawa's first encounter with porcelain painting came during her stay in Germany, the home of Meissen porcelain. At first, she only collected the tableware, but her fascination led her to try her hand at porcelain painting.

"They make wonderful presents," she says. "It may take a lot of time and effort, but seeing the look on my friend's face is worth it."

The items displayed range from tea sets to pill cases, all hand-painted. Included are the works of Eiko Toyoda, the school's chief instructor.