Satsuma buttons are classified as ceramics, (products made of baked clay). The original technique of Satsuma is native to Korea, but after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1598 by Yoshiro Shmaza, lord of the Satsuma Province, Korean artisans were used to develop Japan’s ceramic industry. The manufacturing of Satsuma lasted until the 1960s. The secret of the technique was passed on from generation to generation. In every generation there were fewer people who mastered the technique until the craft disappeared. As the Japanese traditionally wore no buttons, Satsuma button were made for export. The story goes that in 1868, Admiral Perry brought back Satsuma pottery after he went bargain hunting while his ship was being repaired in the port of Tokyo.
Japanese ceramics became popular after the exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and shortly thereafter the first Satsuma buttons were made in the province of Kyoto. However, most of the hand decorating of Satsuma buttons and their exporting was done from Tokyo.