Thursday 18 April 2013

Mashiko last week

Hello all. Here's a blog post that I wrote last Wednesday when I visited Mashiko.

Well what an incredible day I just had. I’m lying in bed, wide awake as my time clock is still completely confused and my mind is mulling over the events of today. There is no internet access in this little travel lodge in the woods on the outskirts of Mashiko, so I’m writing this now, to put on line at the next opportunity.
It’s a great place, nothing like the travel lodges back home, with their cheap and tacky interiors.
I don’t dare press any of those buttons.

So here’s the story of my day. It began with a soak in the deep bath of my hotel, before I packed up may bags ready to say farewell to Tokyo. Koi picked me up at 9.30 and we headed off by car to Mashiko. It was interesting to see the terrain change as we headed further north away from the city. Koi told me that only 30% of Japan is habitable, because the rest is too mountainous. The houses in Tokyo are very close together, but as we entered more rural territory, the buildings were more spread out amongst flat farm land, flanked by sudden rugged mountains. It was a beautiful sight.

A couple of hours later, we arrived in Mashiko at a restaurant, where we met with Tomoo Hamada. How surreal, to be sitting down cross legged on the floor, eating lunch with this famous man. We ate a huge meal of pork cutlets and salad and rice and I did my best with the chopsticks, then made our way to the Hamada workshop.

I didn’t want to start taking photographs indoors, it would have felt disrespectful.

Tomoo showed us the almighty climbing kiln with its five chambers. The last two chambers had needed to be rebuilt following the earthquake.

And he showed us the salt glaze kiln. It was fascinating and quite overwhelming.

We left Tomoo and made our way in to the centre of Mashiko. Koi had an appointment to attend, so I wandered around the numerous pottery shops, looking at the local wares.

I saw more climbing kilns and a whole variety of different styles of pottery. It has really struck me how many people here use hand-made pottery every day.
I also wandered in to this wonderful old building where fabric was being dyed deep indigo blue, the floor containing numerous vats of steaming dye.

This had been the trade in Mashiko before it became established as a pottery town.

Koi and I met up again at 4 pm and went to The Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, where we saw a fantastic exhibition of works by Bernard Leach and his associates, before meeting the Vice Director of the Museum in his office. He wanted to interview me with a view to possibly including my work in an exhibition in September, demonstrating the influence of Leach on contemporary British makers. I was delighted to have been accepted, so that’s very exciting.

Then I stood smiling in disbelief outside Shoji Hamada’s house.

This evening we met with Mr Yokobori from the museum again and had a delicious meal.

On tonight’s menu, these wonderful salads.

Oysters, another first for me and really good.

 Burdock root wrapped in bacon.

What a brilliant day, Koi has really looked after me so well, it has been a mind blowing, inspirational experience.

Tomorrow we are meeting Tomoo again to visit the Mashiko Hamada archive and then to see Ken Matsusaki, before I jump on a train to my next destination, Tokoname.


Dennis Allen said...

See, aren't you glad you got on that plane? Knew you could do it.

Anna M. Branner said...

I agree with Dennis. Well done! And thanks for sharing with us armchair travellors. :)

Barbara Rogers said...

Thanks so much for taking those photos...I do wonder what all those buttons were supposed to do! Fabulous pics and report of your visit!

Scott K Roberts said...

I've been looking forward to the photos, nice!