By Jerome Lee
Hagi is a lovely town, located on the western seaside of Yamaguchi Prefecture, where a famous style of pottery known as Hagiyaki was introduced approximately 400 years ago. I had the opportunity to meet with a local potter and check out the pottery workshop he offers to those who are interested in creating their very own piece of Hagiyaki.
Mr. Nobuhiko Kaneko is a well-known pottery artist who has been making pieces of pottery for about 40 years. He gave me a little tour of his work space and the shop where his beautiful pieces of pottery are displayed and sold. Creating pieces that are not only beautiful but also functional is what he strives for whenever he sits down to make something. Mr. Kaneko's work is influenced by natural elements, such as fire and wind. He also believes that it's important to tap into your inner child sometimes and add an element of fun to what you're creating.
Walking through his store, I saw some very fun pieces that stood out among the classic Hagiyaki pieces. When I asked Mr. Kaneko about them, he explained they were his son's creations. While his son is following in his footsteps, he definitely has a different style from his father. I asked him how he felt about this completely different style of Hagiyaki, and he said he thought it was great and he enjoys seeing his son's creations.
If you are interested in making your own piece of Hagiyaki as a souvenir, you can do that at Mr. Kaneko's shop. They offer both pottery painting and pottery making. If you are interested in painting, they will give you a piece of pottery that is almost finished and have you paint whatever designs you would like on it. If you are interested in making a piece of pottery, you will be shown how to do so with a piece of clay. Once you decide what you would like to make, someone will guide you from start to finish and make sure you are happy with what you create. While I didn't get a chance to make something, I was able to observe a family that was making pottery. I was so impressed with how attentive and patient the employee was with them. Based on their reactions and comments, they enjoyed the whole process and were very happy with how their pieces turned out.
Reservations are highly recommended as they are busy with groups most of the time. Also, be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete whichever project you choose to do. The pottery painting is a little bit easier to control since you can paint as much or as little as you want. If you want to make a piece of pottery, you could be there for up to an hour.
It will take a few weeks for your work of art to be finished. Once it is ready, they will mail it to you. The shipping fee will be added onto your project fee. Project fees start from ¥850 and go up, depending on what you choose to do. Shipping fees will also vary, depending on where you need to have your item shipped.
For more information, and to make reservations, please call Jouzan-gama at 0838-25-1666.
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