That’s my saké cup!
Don’t come dropping mud in there,
Gojozaka Pottery Festival
The Gojō-zaka Tōki Matsuri was started back in the early Taishō era and has grown to become one of the largest pottery fairs in Japan. Sprawling five blocks from Gojō-zaka Street in the Higashiyama area, hundreds of different vendors gather for this event in order to sell their wares.
Though their kilns are now located outside the city for environmental reasons, many pottery stores with generations-long histories set up shop on Gojō-zaka. Kyoto style pottery is famous in Japan for its quality, and even a low end piece can be somewhat expensive, but during these four days you can find yourself some decent deals if you know where to look.
Established during the obon season in order to take advantage of the influx of visitors to the city’s temples, many shops use this as a way to sell stock with imperfections or sell off surplus inventory to make way for a new year of firing. With the high quality and skill artisans have in this area, even pottery that has a flaw is still quite nice and sometimes not even noticeable.
Ranging in style from classic blue-on-white tea sets to earthy glazed plates to funky new age coffee mugs, traditional, established shops set up alongside young up-and-coming pottery artists. In one stall you may find small plates for less than 100 yen, and at the next, ancient saké cups for over 600,000 yen.
For those interested in the arts or just getting a good deal while stocking your china cabinet, the Tōki Matsuri is your chance to save!
A special experience for those interested both in pottery, as well as exploring one of the most traditional areas of Kyoto, is to tour the area with Mr. Takahachi Kawasaki.
He is the 8th generation owner of “Totensei Kawasaki” pottery store. His deep affection for the Kiyomizu-Gojo area has lead to his commitment to a variety of community developmental activities as well as his running the store.
“Totensei Kawasaki,” formally called “KameyaKyokutei”, was engaged in producing Kyo-yaki pottery for generations, from the end of the Edo era (the latter half of 19th century). This store is a Kyoto machiya townhouse that was built by the 5th generation owner in the Meiji period. His store was given an award by the Industry Promotion Section of the Kyoto City Industry and Tourism Bureau in 2010.
He profoundly loves his quarter where he grew up and enjoys guiding others around the historical quarter of Kiyomizu Gojo, the birthplace of Kiyomizu pottery. His tour includes both the historical heritage which resides in Gojo and modern industrial heritage of the ceramics industry.
It is the opportunity to see the remains of the Fujihira Climbing Kiln (Fujihiragama) in Kyoto, as well as meet a local potter and his family still working in this area.
For more information and reservations:
There also are several opportunities for making your own pottery in Kyoto:
With four generations of pottery expertise, he teaches pottery molding and various ideas for textures and glazes unique to the area. He has an ancient wood fired kiln, and you can see examples of his work here.
Taught by a 15th generation Kyoto potter, this shop has provided items to Japanese nobility and tea masters for ages. Classes average about 1.5 hours and are suitable for anyone over 5 years old. One unique thing about their classes is the decorating of your items with carving techniques and impressions. They offer three different classes; building your item, using a potters wheel, and drawing or painting on your item.
They offer longer classes than most, from 3 hours to multiple days. They teach traditional pottery specific to Kyoto and the organic glazes. The pottery master will (for a $20 cost) also perform a traditional Japanese tea ceremony for you
Asahido Biko Workshop
Classes take place in a local chinaware shop and generally take up to an hour. You have the option of handcrafting your item or learning to use a potters wheel. Like most classes, the kiln firing, glazing and decorating will be done after your class and your item shipped to you.
“This is the closest ceramics workshop studio to Kiyomizu Temple. You are more than welcome to participate in a relaxing moment of concentration and creativity in our pottery studio surrounded by beautiful landscapes and a tranquil atmosphere. All instructors are young Kyoto artists, and classes range from playing on the potter’s wheel, decorating, and hand building. Class sizes are kept small to enable an easygoing experience, as few as from one participant per class.”
Overseas shipments are also available to deliver your original ceramic works home. 075-531-2181
10am – 5pm (last admission) *closed on New Year’s Day Guests with reservations are given priority.
“The UNRAKU-gama Kyo-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki workshop offers a unique chance to see these pottery styles as they are made. With authentic presence the artisans demonstrate advanced techniques for visitors. These techniques are often amazing, as a ball of clay takes form as a finished work in a flash.”
These visits are only available to purchasing customers, and to those with a deep interest in Kyo-yaki / Kiyomizu-yaki pottery.
Zuikougama “Kiyomizu Temple Studio.”
Address: 385-5 Yasaka Kamimachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0827Phone:075-744-6644Hours:10:00 – 17:00