南山大学

 

International student's Japan experience report Tour of Seto city

Creating Ceramic Art

Seto is known as one of the six ancient kilns of Japan, with 1300 years of ceramics history. It boasts many potters where people can try creating ceramics for themselves. Everything, including tools is provided, so nothing needs to be taken. After producing your very own original creation on the potter’s wheel, it is dried for a few days before being fired by the artisan.

Video Clip outining the tour’s coures

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Now the moment they’d been waiting for – making their own ceramics! On this trip, we visited the Akazu district’s Kitagama Kasen. Within the walls of this stylish black building, the four feel sure they can create something fabulous!

Their first task is to knead the clay. They really have to work hard and knead it well.

Their teacher gives them full instructions before they use the potter’s wheel. Surprisingly, the teacher speaks English very well. Difficult technical terms are explained in English, while general instructions are given in Japanese, so it is a good opportunity to practice their Japanese language skills, as well as being easy to understand!

Once the instructions are finished, one at a time, they begin their creations on the potter’s wheel! They wet their hands and hesitantly mould the clay, but it doesn’t go too well to begin with. From this point on, the teacher gives them individual instruction.

Whatever they choose to make, the basic shape is cylindrical. The trick is to make sure there are no wobbles in the basic shape....but Antonella seems to have a bit of a problem with her shape.

Miyako, who had some experience with ceramic work during high school, was as expected, rather talented. Even the teacher gave high praise, saying that her work would "put professionals to shame."

Look at the intense concentration on these faces! Just the slightest change in pressure completely changes the shape, so they could mess up if they don’t keep their concentration. This is the challenge of ceramics, as well as being the fun of ceramics.

The most important features of a beautiful piece are thinness and uniformity. The right hand is placed inside, and the left hand is placed on the outside of the piece, and the clay is molded between the middle fingers of each hand.

All four of them have settled down after about 10 minutes, with each of them creating a work full of their own personality. Luis is having a great time – "I just love how smooth this clay feels". It’s as if he’s enjoying a return to childhood.

On this trip, they created three pieces each. Once they choose one of the seven types of glaze for each of their works, they are finished for the day. After a few days of drying, the teacher fires their creations. The finished product is delivered in about one month. Oh, the anticipation!

They thank their teacher and leave the studio. All four seemed to have really enjoyed themselves. "We are definitely coming back here again!" they all promise.

Antonella has made a rice bowl, a vase and a cup. Depending on the glaze, it is possible to have pictures drawn onto your creation, and Antonella has chosen to have her favorite, the cherry blossom flower, painted onto her vase.

Christine made two bowls and a cup. She chose to make the edges of one of her bowls fluted, an original idea of her own. She decided to have a bamboo design painted onto her cup.

Luis made two bowls and a cup. He chose the same glaze for all three pieces, so they can be enjoyed as a set. "I can’t wait to enjoy a meal using these!" says Luis.

Miyako has created a bowl, a vase, and a cup. She is particularly pleased with the vase, a masterpiece on which she spent much effort. "I’m so glad this turned out so well!" she says confidently. It is to be a present for her parents in America.