66: Learning Pottery at Tajimi

#100 Happy Days / Day 66

I set my alarm for 7:30am but I wake up naturally at 6:15am. Again. My body clock is now involuntarily tuned to a rooster channel!

The sun is already up so I decide to make the best use of my morning. I am going to explore my new neighborhood by foot! But not before loading up on breakfast.

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The air is very fresh and there are quite a few people doing their morning exercises and tending to their vegetable plots. A few high school students whiz by on their bicycles.

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I see a signboard that says Park and decide to follow it. I find a quiet spot that overlooks the city and it has a nice flight of stairs! My eyes don’t usually light up at the sight of stairs (I’m a normal modern human being after all) but I really need to make up for all the training sessions I missed with my Oxfam Trailwalker team in Singapore! I go on to do 10 round trips.

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At 10am, sensei comes to class and asked me to wedge some clay. Unsatisfied with my unelegant method, he proceeds to demonstrate how to do it in a spiral method, which is also called the chrysanthemum in Japanese. It is beautiful! I proceed to try but somehow my hand coordination feels and is weird. Sensei looks on before correcting and when I still didn’t get it right, he said “practice every morning and every evening”. With that, he left me to figure it out how to get it right.

By now, several other students have also come to class. All of them are Japanese and many have been here for several years. They are all really friendly!

I try switching my main hand and turning direction and it felt more natural. Wow am I a left hander now? In Japan, the wheel also turns in the opposite direction from what we use in Singapore. How interesting the differences; and it is not even related to whether you are a left or right hander.

After a while, sensei comes to teach me about slab building. I haven’t done any before, and the slicing is done manually here. My fingers start to really hurt from pulling the steel string tightly and repeatedly against the cold hard lump of clay.

At lunch, the custom here is that everyone will eat together. All of them have brought their own lunch, except me. I hurriedly look in my fridge and threw together some noodles, vegetables, eggs and fish balls. 10 minutes later, I join the rest at the table.

“What is this?” They politely (and incredulously) asked.
“Er, Chinese udon!” I give my biggest smile.

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When lunch is over, the ladies collect all the dishes and we wash them together at the common sink. They do it at breakneck speed and I try desperately to keep up. Through Naoko san, Sensei expresses that he wants to see my current skill level at the wheel. I am to wedge five 500g balls of clay, and to show what I can do.

“I will watch from far away, don’t be stressed”. He gently says.

Of course I still get nervous! I have never done throwing with this small size before. I try hard to concentrate. When its done, I ask sensei to come over and look. Naoko san always has to stop her own pottery, just so she can be the translator.

“Hmm, it’s ok. Just a little thick here at the base.”

This is the happiest moment for me today! I happily continue to practice on my own.

By the time the class ends, I am tired out. In Singapore, my class is usually 3-4 hours and I haven’t used my arms like this in about a month. The day is still young though so I decide to go out again to see Tajimi!

I find that spring is here:) How lovely!

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This road is called 陶彩の径, and by full spring, all the trees will bloom. I am so looking forward to it! In the meantime, it is also beautiful as it is. Ahh, spring is in the air!

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