I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pottery update--Shigaraki Pottery Festival and a few additions to my collection

Teapot (急須=kyusu). This is some great Shigaraki clay, rich with iron and other metals (I don't know) abudant in the soil. The metal creates the dark streaks and brownish/blackish band around the top. The cool white glaze adds a nice contrast.
So as I maybe mentioned before, the Shigaraki Pottry Festival is this holiday weekend. I went with a couple of friends to the festival and then crashed at the Shigaraki Pottery School where another ex-JET buddy is studying (an amazing place where students and professionals from around the world come to throw/work/study).

This is the coarse, tan earthtone typical of Shigaraki pottery. This and the teapot above were created by the same artist, a Shigaraki native.
I got to talk with about of different artists about their styles, soils, glazes--all of which I know little about but am keen to know more about. One big thing a lot of the local Shigarakians were saying is that there's little Shigaraki clay--famous its rough, coarse earthtones, speckled with iron flecks--left in the area. Apparently the mountain hamlet has attracted not only pottery and tea conniseurs in pursuit of their asthetic passions, but golf courses dot the hillsides and take up quite a bit of land with minable (is that word appropriate here) clay.

I have always had a soft spot for golf as well, but recently I've been wondering--the excessive amount of fertilizer that runs off into the surrounding watershed, invading into pristene forests for sports and mangling the ecosystem, and the country club snobbery...golf made a lot of sense in the low grasslands of Scotland where maintainance wasn't necessary, but exporting it to other habitats is starting to appear more and more irresponsible. This clay shortage is strike two in my book against golf courses.
All tangents aside, I acquired a few new pieces that I want to show off. I'll go ahead and do that before I get sidetracked again.

This last one here is of a variety called Shino. I'm not 100% sure about what Shino means, but I know it's referring to the type of heavy white glaze, applied in a way that leaves cracks and gaps so that the color of the underlying glaze (here the red) shines through.


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