Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mashiko Pottery Town

Going to Japan is a lesson learned about cultivation and preserving tradition.  On the one hand there is the chasing of the next technological advancement, and a whimsical almost kitchiness to its personality, while the other is steeped in its roots be it Shinto, Buddhist, or a craft passed down from parent to child.  One can see examples of this all over Japan from the high-speed trains and endless skyscrapers to the pause one takes from the pulsating workday to enjoy a cup of matcha from a handcrafted tea cup.  Japan is a juxtaposition of preservation and development, fantasy and reality.

One of the most impressive places I visited (and there were many) was the town of Mashiko, in Tochigi Prefecture Japan. It is one of a few small towns devoted to a specific type of pottery.  Mashiko itself is known for its clay soil which leaves a reddish tone in its pottery.  You can read an interesting article HERE about the town on CNN.

The town also has an Indigo dye center still using traditional hand techniques. The textiles were beautiful...and very expensive. I could not afford a single hanging piece.  But the ladies working there allowed me to take pictures.  I arrived while the dye masters were on tea break, so I was unable to see them working firsthand.  Here are a few photos I captured...

Another door curtain

Lovely door curtain that had a $350 price tag  

Beautiful hand-dyed cloth that ran about $48 US a meter

Indigo dye inside

Most shops in Japan don't allow people to take photographs.  I guess it must be highly competitive and designs are trade secrets. Some of the stores were a little less weary than others. There were many beautiful pieces of pottery that I wish I had photos of...if not to just use as reference for future trips.  One shop allowed my daughter to shoot a photosphere...a big surprise to all of us. The shop housed and represented many local artist and was probably my favorite as far as variety. In the back room, they had a soft goods section selling handmade clothing and accessories.  Of course, nothing inexpensive.  Especially my favorite cat clock...see below.  I hope you enjoy the rest of the photos and happy sewing!

Felted silk scarves.

This was my favorite handcraft in the back room.
 Some photos of the pottery I was able to take...

Even the tea cafe we visited served its delectables in custom ceramics.

This is ceramic put into what looked like a handmade cement floor. It was in front of one of the local shops.