Lee Tan


Contemporary pottery shop and art space in Okayama

Lee Tan
Lee Tan   - 3 min read

Aburakame was founded by Kashiwado Yoshitaka in 2007. A former salaryman, he wanted to escape the corporate life and follow his passion of organising exhibitions and living with art and craft. He eventually found this 140-year-old building near the Asahi River in Okayama, and thus his dream was realised. Aburakame is now a thriving art space, shop and cafe specialising in contemporary pottery from all over Japan. The name Aburakame means 'oil turtle' in Japanese. It refers to the nickname of the original owner of the building, who's name Kame means turtle, and he sold oil.

Japan has a long and rich history in pottery. It is one of the oldest art forms, with different styles across the country. Okayama, for example, is home to the famous Bizen pottery, one of Japan's six ancient pottery styles. It is characterised by its reddish or brownish colours, and is neither glazed nor painted over. Contemporary ceramicists in turn are taking these time-honoured traditions and merging them with modern designs and methods to create unique new works.

Yoshitaka scours Japan for ceramicists, young and old, working with this craft in traditional or new ways. His shop and gallery holds pottery pieces by up-and-coming artisans like Kentaro Umeda, Taizo Yamamoto and Shinichiro Kanoya. Beautiful but functional, they are ideal for home use or as gifts, and favoured by people from all walks of life.

Alongside the shop is the art space, with different exhibitions every month. Pottery lovers will appreciate the themed exhibitions, which showcase a selection of curated products and artists. For this month of May, it is children's day and the displays are fun, cute and colourful; suitable for a child's use. The upcoming exhibition is on soba choko cups, versatile bowls meant for soba noodles. Aburakame is promoting its use in various ways, whether as a phone holder or a vase. The pieces on exhibit are also for sale.

The main focus is on pottery, but Yoskhitaka also hosts fine art shows and installations. The art space has hosted established practitioners like Sabura Ota and Toshiro Yamaguchi, as well as up-and-coming artists such as Ayuko Yoshiyuki. The website and Facebook page are in Japanese only, but it should give you an idea of upcoming exhibitions and events at Aburakame.

Lee Tan

Lee Tan @lee.tan

Writer, photographer and traveller.