About Japanese pottery
Zen is the mantra. Simple, understated, but far from rudimentary. Japanese pottery is unique in its restraint on flamboyance. Unlike Chinese pottery famed for glazed finesse, japanese pottery to a great extent is unglazed. Not that there is a lack of capability. Far from it. Japan at one time became the largest source of artistic pottery imported into Europe. Craftsmen trained from China and Korea settled in Japan and improved the techniques to established its own niche. Over time though the extravagance gave way to a preference for simplicity. To the uninitiated it is simple but the experienced would know how difficult it is to produce something simple. Like Haiku.
Learning pottery in Tokyo
Pottery is very much a locality- based craft these days. Soil types vary from region to region. So does the type of pottery with its own characteristics. Some heat up early. Some are reddish in colour, some are grayish. Pottery is encouraged as a traditional art form. Students in big cities enroll into pottery schools to familiarize themselves with art that is both earthly and sophisticated at the same time.
Students at first learn to mould and through the clay. Learn to use the pottery wheel. In the next stage they learn to apply glaze. Before applying glaze one uses wax to keep some portions that they do not want to be covered by glaze for example the bottom of a vessel. On rest they paint, apply glaze and hand over to the master for heating.
Heating in a kiln for days over applying the right temperature is a skill in itself. Casual students will not be able to master this skill quickly. But that should not desist them from giving shape to a piece of east and coloring it with their own creativity. Thus the pottery schools allow students to hire their services and have their creations come into own.
In big city Tokyo there are quite a few such pottery schools. Some of them even allow trial classes for foreigners. Having English speaking staff on board these schools proved a popular experience for foreign travelers keen to try Japanese pottery. Location wise schools in and around Roppongi Azabu Ikebukuro are convenient for foreigners as well. One school pretty close to the Tokyo Tower is Uzumako. Open daily including weekends, it allows walk in registrations. Below URL provides direction and phone number should you be interested. The photos accompanying this article are of the pottery school entrance and a piece created by student, your Couchflyer team member Alice.
Feel free to try out yourself you will probably not regret. Note please, that Couchflyer does not have any link with the school except for the onetime experience. We can perhaps help you connect, but then best way is to use google translate/google map and just drop in!