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I bought a Kannon (Guanyin) statue at a flea market. There are Japanese characters on the underside, which I was able to translate halfway thanks to Google Translator: "Made by Kutani Kubikin".

Kutani is clear: that's just the style in which the statue is made or painted.

This "Kubikin" (省山謹製) doesn't mean anything to me, and I can't find anything on the Internet. Perhaps Google image search has also misinterpreted it. I suspect it corresponds to the name of the manufacturer or the artist, but I would be grateful for any information as to whether the word is really "Kubikin" or it's something else.

signature picture

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    It says 九谷 省山謹製.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 16:43
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    To the voters for closing: I am not 100% convinced that the question is off-topic given that OP tried to do some research first, as opposed to lazily come here and be like "WhaT'S thE KANji IN ThiS PICture, SomEONe HELP ME PLEASEEE!"
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 17:19

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[九谷]{kutani}, as you already pointed out, refers to a particular style of Japanese porcelain.

[謹製]{kinsei} is an adjective that means "humbly manufactured with care", and it appears to be a word used to cast a positive light on manufactured goods by the manufacturers offering them for selling.

As for 省山, I am not exactly sure but it seems to be a toponym, possibly the province of Shandong in China. According to the relevant entry in the Japanese Wikipedia, the Japanese transliteration for the name of this province is [山]{san} [東]{tou} [省]{shou}. As for the pronunciation of 省山 itself, I couldn't find a source to back it, but we could guess it would be read it as [省山]{shouzan} in Japanese. However, as pointed out in the comment by @Naruto, 省山 might well refer to the name of the manufacturer. It would be really weird that a style of porcelain made in a particular place in Japan is produced also in China, so @naruto's arguments are pretty solid.

Taking everyone's input into account then, we could guess the following translation for 九谷 省山謹製:

kutani goods carefully manufactured by 省山.

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    When I put 省山 into a search engine I get exclusively Chinese results, yeah. Machine translation seems to think it just means a provincial capital (which, in antiquity, would I suppose have been in a mountainous area for military defense reasons). ChatGPT's explanation seems spurious and confused, as I'd expect every province's name to end with 省 , given the obvious meaning that also survived in Japanese. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 1:32
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    @KlausSebaldt if the answer solved your question, you can optionally mark the answer as accepted by clicking on the grey check mark and turn it green, like this. This gives some points to the person who took time to address it.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 7:10
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    @KarlKnechtel there are only results in Chinese, and ChatGPT's explanation might come across as spurious, but if you look into these results in Chinese, you definitely find instances of 省山 used to refer to the Shandong region. For example, in this biography of the writer Relli Awey, they say: 1942年后,艾黎同英国记者何克在陕西双石铺创办了培黎工艺学校(1944年迁至甘肃 省山 丹县)。
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 7:20
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    九谷焼 refers to the traditional porcelain made in the southern part of Ishikawa Prefecture, and I don't think it's made outside Ishikawa. I believe it is unrelated to any Chinese province. 省山 is likely just the name of a manufacturer (窯元). When you search for "九谷焼 省山", many photos of boxes stamped with the 省山 seal come up.
    – naruto
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 8:30
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    And simply, 謹製 attaches a creator/maker, not a place name :)
    – naruto
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 12:33

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