Day 2 of the Neighborhood Kiln Walkabout. We wizened up slightly and decided to head out much earlier than morning in order to get some coffee and breakfast at the next door pottery studio which had organized a pop up cafe space in their studio. Unfortunately, Sensei was right about the weather and the drizzling started even before we made it out of the studio. Thankfully, when it rained in Seto it was never a downpour, but usually just a light pitter-patter type gentle drizzle that wasn’t altogether unpleasant to walk around in.
Before we headed out though, we met an elderly couple who had bought a big vase from Sensei. The man spoke pretty decent English, attributing it to his many years having gone overseas for business trips. When he found out M was from London, he started reminiscing about his first trip to England more than 20 years ago. Am pretty sure he rattled off his favourite tourist attractions…Big Ben! And Buckingham Palace…and the like. Though the wife appeared shy initially and spoke mainly in Japanese rather than English, when she did open her mouth to correct her husband’s English expressions, she did so with rather impeccable English! Always a surprise to learn that people are not always as they appear on the outside. ^^
I have a feeling that the elderly man was quite excited to have found some foreigners he could practise his English with so when we mentioned we were heading off for breakfast, he decided he would come along with us in the same direction. We headed to the next door pottery studio hoping to get a cozy seat inside away from the rain but alas, they weren’t having the same popup cafe space as the previous day! All they had for coffee was a Nespresso machine for espresso in the garage space outside. The fun part though was being able to choose our espresso cups to drink from. The elderly man generously treated us to coffee as well as sour dough bread that he’d bought from one of the pop up stalls. It must have been a pretty funny sight for onlookers seeing all of u – 3 Gaijin + elderly Japanese couple, seated together munching pieces of plain sour dough, drinking espresso and attempting to converse. Towards the end, the wife took out a little keychain charm which she had sewed by herself and offered it to us. The husband encouraged us to play ‘Janken pon!'(じゃん拳) or rock, paper and scissors to battle for it. It’s times like these when I’m glad we chose to go along with the flow rather than reject the overly enthused suggestion by our friendly Japanese stranger. I think he enjoyed being the judge of that one off round of Janken. 😉 (That charm remains safely tucked in my bag till now~!) After breakfast, they walked off to the Akazu Pottery Association while we headed around to the other studios.
Thinking back, encounters such as those really bring to mind the concept of 一期一会. There are people that you meet on travels that you probably will never meet again. But there’s always a beauty to putting in the effort to making however short an interaction with someone else a beautiful one.
We walked around the neighborhood together as the rain drizzled on. Visiting potters that V had remembered Sensei recommending we check out. One with a supposedly ‘handsome’ young potter according to Sensei (but in the end we all couldn’t quite agree with his assessment!). I doubt we made it to all 60 plus studios in the area but at least we managed to cover the main ones. I remember M commenting that the three of us walking together and exploring in the rain was quite a memorable experience and I must say… despite our differing backgrounds, personalities and cultures, ceramics was definitely a fantastic glue that allowed us to gel well together.
Wrote in my diary that night:
“Still working on vase shapes – need some guidance to try sake cups and sake decanter
Rained out today
Feeling slightly tired
Enjoyed ichigo ichie encounter with elderly couple
Enjoyed a chat with M at night… just relaxing and having a very easy going conversation”