65: Immersion in Japan Pottery

#100 Happy Days / Day 65

Today marks the start of my 3-week adventure in Tajimi! I have arrived at this tiny city in Gifu prefecture – the heart of Japanese ceramics – to learn pottery. Tajimi’s history as Japan’s foremost pottery town goes backard far as 1,300 years, so it is populated with plenty of studio potters, as well as galleries and museums. As one of the previous students remarked, it is simply a paradise for pottery lovers! The famed mino ware, including oribe, hails right from this city.

One of the first things I notice is the sky here. It is one of the most beautiful skies I have seen. Astonishingly, it stretches unbroken from horizon to horizon, even when it sits above a city!

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Houses sit low while those on higher ground nestle snugly into the sides of the surrounding ridges. Many of them have their own vegetable plots and the greens are just starting to break through the ground surface as winter comes to an end. A river cuts across the town, and a long walking pathway runs parallel – lined with trees waiting for the song of spring to call forth their blossoms.

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Shibata sensei, accompanied by one of his students Naoko san, is kind enough to make the trip to Tajimi station and pick me up. When they see me with a big backpack on my back, and another smaller one in front, they immediately break into a laugh! In the most polite way possible, of course. I must look rather unlike what they expect of a pottery student.

It is lunch time and they decide on one of the local restaurants. They have a big menu selection, but I am instantly and irresistibly drawn to a picture of the omu rice. I order it of course, and to do my companions, to my surprise. It is oishii!! (I have not found a better word to describe the food :)) Sensei quietly disappears for a few moments to pay for all of us. How generous of him!

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We reach the studio and they go on to spend an inordinate amount of time showing me around my new home for the next 3 weeks, making sure that I knew how everything worked and that I would be comfortable. The apartment above the studio is simply beyond my expectations. It is huge and very well equipped! It is also dotted with his artwork. There is even an electric bicycle so that students like me can easily navigate the hilly terrain while getting around Tajimi! Love at first sight.

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After the studio and apartment tour, we sit down around the fireplace for some tea. The sunlight is streaming in from the nearby windows. Somehow the tea tastes better when the water is boiled over this old school fireplace and kettle!

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We are soon joined by another student, Naoki-san, who came by for a visit. He brings gifts for sensei and even took the other bicycle to show me to the nearby supermarket where we quickly fill the 2 bicycle baskets with goodies from my first grocery trip here. I will have to prepare every meal as there are limited options for eating out. And I guess it’s about time I tried my hand at cooking regular meals! Especially since I just invested in a 5kg bag of rice.

So on top of pottery, I will be embarking on a culinary adventure!

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Excited is the word of the day 😀

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