Tobe is an initially unassuming rural town in Ehime Prefecture with a glorious flipside: an infatuation with ornamental ceramics.
Tobe is widely known throughout Japan and the word of international ceramics for its huge annual output of traditional porcelain, or Tobeyaki - each piece hand painted with distinctive indigo designs. The clay and pigments used for Tobeyaki are entirely locally sourced, part of why the pottery and this experience is so unique.
Although the town holds a museum and countless adorable establishments which offer opportunity to procure distinctive collectable or practical pieces, if you are interested in creating your own work of art, then the Arts and Crafts Workshop is worth a visit.
You can try your hand at the potter's wheel, or you can paint a piece of unfired pottery from a pre-made selection, ranging from beautifully delicate chopstick holders to hefty ramen bowls. The murky khaki paint used will turn a brilliant blue when the firing process is complete.
The very welcoming staff will fire and send the finish product back to you within three weeks (although international delivery is not available). The staff who accommodated us during our visit were extremely welcoming, and went to great effort to speak as much English to us as possible during the technique explanation.
This Tobeyaki craft workshop experience is a relaxing one, as you are free to spend the time at your leisure. It is also very affordable, ranging from 400 - 200yen, depending on what piece of pottery you choose to make your mark on.