Our first day trip out to Tajimi~! There was a big pottery festival going on in Tajimi, another major pottery city in the neighboring prefecture of Gifu. Thanks to M-san, we hitched a ride in her car and it took us about an hour to get to our first stop, Ceramic Park MINO. It had a gorgeous exhibition of ceramics by very established potters and also featured works from emerging young artists. Looking back I could easily have spent a whole afternoon there just walking slowly, breathing in all that creativity. Styles which I’d never seen before and all of us asking M-san, our incredible resource person, how do you think that design was created? What sort of glaze could this be? Regardless of the question she always had a really well considered answer. It was such a great opportunity that we were able to walk around looking at exhibits with her. There was even a section displaying works by 無形文化財, Intangible Cultural Property Holders. Something equivalent to National Treasures because they were rare masters of certain special techniques passed down through oral tradition or folklore. The price tags on those were many many many 0s. A first for me.
We then went to the Tajimi Ceramic Festival, taking a free shuttle bus from a nearby train station. It was a good idea to have queued for the shuttle bus because the place was PACKED. It was huge ceramic market of sorts, with stalls ranging from independent artists, to wholesalers and to middleman salespersons. Since we were pretty darn famished by the time we got there, we had some typical festival food – yakisoba, fried chicken a few ways, siew mai for M-san… First thing I did was get in line for croquette which really hit the spot. Walking around all the stalls felt a little overwhelming at times. So many beautiful pieces that I wish I knew how were made. What sort of glazes were used here? But having had some exposure to the making process, I know that anything these independent artists put out would really have been things tried and tested many times before they finally found the style the were happy to sell. I caved in and bought one item though which I really like. A plate decorated in different layers of slip. Managed to ask the artist how he did it and it was so great being able to understand his explanation to a large extent. Made me want to improve my Japanese all the more to be able to learn more techniques. 😉
On the way back, we dropped by a cozy cafe. Tried the Chai latte and shared delicious cake with the others. Unfortunately, on the way back I developed the worst tummy ache ever. Thank goodness we were in Japan where the toilets are clean. And thank goodness there was a hypermart around the corner which M-san drove us too. I made it to the toilet in time while the others managed to do a little grocery shopping. Looking back, all I can say is… thank godssss.
Got back to the studio and tried saving the base of one of my bowls which I’d accidentally shaved off while trimming. Tried sticking it onto a flat piece of clay to see if it’d still be able to fit the bottom. Didn’t know if it would work out but didn’t hurt to try either.
Wrote in my journal that night:
“Tried out some new techniques. Feels good to be able to explore.
Really precious, this period of time just exploring and taking the time
To try things out with the unburdened mind. Most precious part
Of the entire experience. Lol all the books I have been meaning to read
Still rather untouched but I am sure during the rest days I’ll be able to
Do something with them.”
(We all know what happened to that pile of untouched books unfortunately ;p)