Tokoname, Japan

Ceramics was my passion when I was a little girl and not because I saw “Ghost”. I just liked playing with clay, creating little animals and painting them. The whole process was just fascinating for me and I never could understand how something so plastic as clay could become so hard by just putting it in the oven. Now I can’t understand how come I ever stopped… Especially when we went to Tokoname…

Tokoname is a small village on Chita peninsula famous for its pottery. Tradition there dates centuries back and judging by the amount of people that we saw there, it’s fighting for survival. Not many people are going to buy a plate for 40 euro when they can drive to IKEA and buy a whole set for the same price. Especially since young Japanese are fascinated with anything that is western. For tourists on the other hand most expect a village of old grandmas trying to clay something together, something not very sophisticated or stylish. That’s what Jandirk thought for sure so it was a challenge to get him to join me. But as soon as we got there it was clear he was wrong.

Entering the village we followed the signs of “The Pottery Footpath” passing 39 beckoning ceramic cats just along the road. They are an interesting tribute to Maneki Neko, the famous figurine of a cat that brings luck. Tokoname is the biggest producer of those. And cats in general are very popular subject of plates, cups and ceramic sold in the town.

Instead of grandmas trying to clay something together, Tokoname is full of small ateliers. They are all different in sizes and styles. Some are a part of someone’s garden or entrance where figurines and pottery are left unattended with just price tags and a collection box for the money. I get an impression that stealing is not a well-known concept in Japan. Some of the studios are a messy sight of work in progress and sadly dust on the pottery indicates that the pieces don’t fly out of the door as soon as they are made… Pots, cups, little chopsticks holders, it all made me feel a bit sad that my backpack was not filled with yen to spend. Especially the last atelier left me hoping that one day I will be able to switch from IKEA to a rather niche table setting. Just in case that would ever happen I tried to ask if it was possible to buy the things online and to my surprise none of the shops had a website…

To come to my senses and remind myself that I can only collect photos and memories we went to explore the village a bit more. My favorite part was a little “Clay Pipe Hill” made from clay shochu alcohol pots and another specialty of Tokoname, clay pipes. In the middle of that path we spotted “The Takita family house” that once belonged to one of shipping dealers in the area. Up to the 20th century the town was very much involved with shipping goods to Edo (Tokyo) and the house feels like a journey in time.

We left Tokoname with a strong feeling that someday we will get beautiful ceramics for our house either by going back to Japan to buy it or by learning how to make it…

One thought on “Tokoname- the Pottery Town

  1. Reply
    Lida - April 23, 2017

    Dit is zo leuk!!!!!!!!

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