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1. Make Japan’s oldest type of pottery, Akazuyaki, at Kitagama Kasen
The Seto area, near Nagoya, is one of the areas that is famous for pottery. The kiln opened about 1000 years ago in the Heian era, and over its long history it has overcome huge declines and revivals to reach the modern era. In the 19th century porcelain became more widespread over the Seto region, but Akazu continued producing pottery. At Kitagama Kasen, you can experience making pottery using a wheel for 2500 yen.
Address: 71 Akazucho, Seto-shi, Aichi (Google Map)
2. Make Minoyaki at Yakimono Kyoushitsu Mori no Tsuchi!
More than half of all Japanese pottery is made in the Mino area of Gifu. The Mino area has been making pottery for more than 1000 years, but the technique called Minoyaki is said to have been established around the 16th century. The ideas and designs are relatively free, and the shape and painting are unique. At Mori no Tsuchi, the professional potters will guide you. These potters hold their own unique exhibitions as well. David Bowie has been here! A 2 hour course is 1000 yen plus price of clay (1 gram is 50 yen). You can spend the night there as well. One night starts at 10000 yen. You can stay at a nearby traditional home as a homestay and learn how to make pottery over a long period of time!
HP: www.ho-ca.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 9-67 Takirocho, Tajimi-shi, Gifu (Google Map)
3. Make rare Bankoyaki at Banko no Sato Kaikan
Bankoyaki is one of the types of pottery produced in Mie, and it’s said to have been created in the 18th century. The current style was developed in the latter half of the 19th century in Yokkaichi, and its distinguishing characteristic is its quality that sits between porcelain and pottery. It’s mostly used to make tableware like coffee cups. You can experience making pottery at Banko no Sato Kaikan for 3 hours for 2500 yen. (Most workshops are the same, but it takes about a month until your piece is finished.)
HP: www.bankonosato.jp (Japanese Only)
Address: 4-8 Toeicho, Yokkaichi-shi, Mie (Google Map)
4. Make Kutaniyaki at Kutani Kousen Kama
Kutaniyaki is a type of pottery that was developed in Ishikawa. It has a history of over 400 years. Its distinguishing characteristic is the gorgeous drawings using one or more colors. It started being exported in large quantities in the second half of the 19th century. Kutani Kousen Kama is a kiln that opened in 1870, and here you can experience painting on the pottery. The price changes depending on the size of the piece, but it starts at 1300 yen. In the area there’s hot spring resorts like Yamashiro Onsen and Yamanaka Onsen, so why not enjoy the springs and pottery in one day?
Address: 5-3-3 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa (Google Map)
5. Make Echizenyaki at Echizen Togeimura
Echizenyaki is a kind of pottery that was developed in Fukui. It has an ancient history that’s said to stretch back over 1000 years. For a long time it wasn’t well-known, but about 100 years ago it was introduced as one of the 6 oldest types of pottery in Japan and from then it became very popular. During the Edo period in most regions they started using pottery as tools in tea ceremony, but Echizenyaki continues to be used as tableware and everyday goods. At Echizen Togeimura you can experience making pottery from clay for 3000 yen. There’s also a course that lets you enjoy the entire process, from shaping the piece to firing and glazing it, for 10000 yen.
Address: 6-12 Ozowara, Echizen-cho, Nyu-gun, Fukui (Google Map)
6. Make Japan’s most popular type of pottery, Hagiyaki, at Hagiyaki Kaikan
Hagiyaki is Japan’s most popular type of pottery, and it’s mostly created in Yamaguchi. It’s said to have been developed in the 17th century. Its distinguishing characteristic is the minute cracks that appear thanks to the balance of clay and glaze. As time passes the cracks change color, and because the cracks should be displayed, this type of pottery does not get paintings or designs added onto it. At Hagiyaki Kaikan, you can experience making pottery by hand without using tools for 1200 yen. If you want to use a pottery wheel, it’s 4000 yen. Other than making pottery, the city of Hagi has a lovely traditional cityscape that would be fun to take a walk in. Why not take some time out to visit?
HP: www.hagiyaki-kaikan.com/experience/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 3155 Shinkawa Higashi-ku, Hagi-shi, Yamaguchi (Google Map)
7. Make Japan’s most exported pottery, Aritayaki and Imariyaki, at Shinkama
Imariyaki is the general name for porcelainthat developed in Saga and Nagasaki prefectures in Kyushu. There are many towns that continue to produce it in this area today. It was given the name “Imariyaki” since it was exported to Europe through Imari Port. The most famous kind of Imariyaki is Aritayaki, and it’s said that began being made in the 17th century, 100 years earlier than Europe’s porcelain production. Its distinguishing characteristic is the red and blue designs painted onto the white porcelain. Shinkama is a workshop that opened in 1830 and they produce Aritayaki that has blue designs on it. You can learn how to make porcelain here using a potter’s wheel starting at 5000 yen.
HP: shingama.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 2788 Hei Kuromuta, Arita-cho, Nishimatsuura-gun, Saga (Google Map)
8. Make Karatsuyaki at Homurakaratsuyaki.com
Karatsuyaki is another type of porcelain from Saga and Nagasaki. It’s said to have started in the 16th century. Unlike the colorful drawings that Aritayaki and Imariyaki are famous for, Karatsuyaki’s distinguishing characteristic is its embodiment of “wabi,” the idea that simplicity is beautiful, since it is very simply decorated. Also, while there are different kinds of Karatsuyaki, it’s also distinguished by the fact that it’s not made in any other areas. Homura is a Karatsuyaki store, but you can also experience making it here. They offer “tehineri” classes where you make pottery without using tools starting at 2000 yen.
HP: karatsuyaki.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1689 Konyamachi, Karatsu-shi, Saga (Google Map)
9. Make Satsumayaki at Miyama Touyukan
Satsumayaki is porcelain from Kagoshima, the prefecture on the southern tip of Kyushu. It was developed at the end of the 16th century, and there are two variations: Shirosatsuma, porcelain made with elaborate, gorgeous designs, and Kurosatsuma, black porcelain made for daily use. At Miyama Touyukan, they sell Satsumayaki from the Miyama area, but they also hold pottery workshops. If you’d like to use the pottery wheel then it’s 2050 yen, but if you want to try it without tools then it’s 1510 yen.
HP: www.touyukan.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1051 Higashi-ichikicho Miyama, Hioki-shi, Kagoshima (Google Map)