A vast collection of exquisite antique Japanese porcelain, some of which are considered nationally important cultural properties, has been found at a castle in Austria.

The majority of the tens of thousands of items were fragments, as Soviet troops vandalized works of art in the chaotic aftermath of World War II, a study team revealed.

The newly discovered Ko-Imari, widely known as old Imari porcelain, including at least three unbroken pieces, were part of a collection held by a family of former pottery and porcelain merchants who owned the castle in Loosdorf, near Vienna.

Among the artworks found intact were a pot, used as a lamp stand, with a relief featuring fowls in the center surrounded by flowers and plants, and a “sukashibori monyo” reticulate porcelain vase featuring a mythological creature in blue. Works in the same style are rare in Japan, the team said.

"We're considering showcasing the pieces that have historical value at an exhibition to be held in 2020 after bringing them back to Japan and restoring them," said Masaaki Arakawa, the team's leader and a professor of Japanese art history at Gakushuin University. "We would then return them to the castle."

The majority of the newly discovered fragments were attributed to Ko-Imari, with many of them in the Kinrande style of the late 17th and early 18th century. Kinrande is known for its opulent style, making use of such colors as gold and red.

The fragments discovered by the team include remnants of pieces made in China and the West. The trove was found during studies conducted twice this year.

Large amounts of Ko-Imari produced in the Arita district of Saga Prefecture, often featuring white backgrounds accented with vibrant orange- and iron-red, blue and gold colors, had been exported to Southeast Asia and Europe during the Edo Period (1603-1867) from a port called Imari. The pieces fascinated overseas kings and their liege lords and were used to decorate rooms as symbols of wealth and power.

Imari produced in the Edo Period is called Ko-Imari to distinguish it from those produced today.

In the aftermath of World War II, the Soviet military took over the castle and vandalized the collection of works of art.