A visit to a local potter’s studio and a tea ceremony were on the agenda for our second day in Kyoto. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that we had quite a bit of help in planning our trip. In addition to Selena and Mr. Nagata, we’d also like to thank Mandy Bartok at Uncover Japan. She provided us with some really useful information regarding trains, phones, ATM machines, in addition to several suggestions on what to see and do in Japan. She was also the one that referred us to Atsuko at the Camellia Tea House. Together, they came up with the idea of also visiting a local potter in the same area as her tea house. So after several emails back and forth we planned to meet her at the tea house at 10:00 am.
The morning streets of Kiyomizu were quiet. The sun was shining and it was the beginning of a beautiful day. A lone commuter… And one cool dude… A “touristy” thing to do in Kyoto is to dress up in kimono for the day and walk the streets. We didn’t find the idea personal appealing, but we would soon see them everywhere we went.Our tea ceremony is housed on the second floor of a beautiful 100-year-old traditional Geisha ryokan near Kiyomizu Temple.We were still a few minutes early so we waited for her while she got everything ready for the 11:00 am ceremony. Then it was a short walk to Kitamura-San’s pottery studio.In typical Japanese fashion, he was ready and waiting for us. Everything from trains to potters in Japan seems to run on exacting precision. (Just in case you’re wondering he is wearing a rugby shirt from the Fiji islands.)
We brought along a few gifts to give to him as a token of our appreciation. One gift was the candied pecans from home, called Treats, that I love so much. The other gift was a tea bowl that we got from Brad’s brother Scott, who is also a professional potter at Red Brick Pottery in Red Wing, MN. It was so fun to see him unwrap his present. He really seemed to get a kick out of the business card that we included. He also seemed very impressed with the quality of the tea bowl and commented on its craftsmanship, liking it to the tea bowls made by the old masters. His studio was quite lovely and his shelves were loaded with his tools and wares. This little porcelain dish caught my eye and he was more than happy to show me the mold he uses. We also had a “brainstorming” session…Followed by a pottery throwing demonstration… In just a matter of minutes he had made a complete three piece set. The difference in the size of tea cups was intentional as they make their sets in that fashion, with one cup slightly bigger than the other. To think that this was all thrown from the same ball of clay and he still has plenty to spare still on his wheel. Then Atsuko took a fun picture of the three of us while the mud was still fresh on his hands. As we were leaving we paused to admire his artwork at the entrance to his shop, which was meant to symbolize peace. We also got a tour of his kiln house… In addition to the gift he gave us to take back to Brad’s brother, he also wanted us to each pick a pair of chopstick holders from the box that just seemed to magically appear from behind the curtain. After several farewells he stood at the door and waved goodbye to us until we were out of sight. This was something that we noticed everywhere we went to visit.
He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
St. Francis of Assisi