Since my very first trip to Japan in 1998, I've been particularly drawn to a kind of rustic minimalist aesthetic in Japanese earthenware. As I grew more familiar with the continuum of Japanese ceramics, I became most excited by artists who took traditional motifs, materials and techniques and infused them with a consciousness of contemporary lifestyles.
Mashiko, as a relatively young center for pottery, has proven more comfortable moving beyond rote recreations of tradition, and pottery there runs the gamut from to the charms of rustic asymmetry to an almost sleek modernist style.
The potters from whom I buy have a unique rustic-contemporary approach. But as you can see, this kind of work is not limited to a narrow range of visual vocabulary. Minowa Yasuo's simple forms, thrown on a kickwheel, use the classic persimmon glaze popularized by Shoji Hamada; Minowa has made this glaze his own through years of experimentation with a gas kiln, producing both temmoku and dramatic reddish rainbow striations from the same glaze. Senda Yoshiaki takes a painstaking approach of combining colored clays in intricate patterns, with both references to familiar Japanese icons and explorations of more abstract repeating geometric patterns. Akutsu Masato, at a mere 27 years old, came from a potting family and created his own unique fusion of rustic visual cues with a kind of modern starkness.
Japanese pottery is meant to be used. You might choose to reserve fancier ware for special occasions, but do not feel that just because an item is beautiful that it should be relegated to display only. Japanese do not place sharp dividing line between "functional" and "decorative" pottery.
You need not have an exact matching set of everything; this notion is a product of the industrial age. It represents the triumph of consistency over soul. One woman I met had a house full of ceramics, some practical and some extravagant, some in sets of five and some as solitary pieces. She told me that every time she had gone on a trip over the previous thirty years, she would buy one or two pieces as a keepsake. After thirty years, she had amassed a substantial collection, many of which found themselves on the dinner table regularly.
Buy what you love. It will fit into your life.