New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Okawachiyama Part 3: Traditional Craft Center + Painting a Cup!

My last stop was the Imari-Arita Ware Traditional Craft Center:

And in keeping with the wind chime festival theme, the entrance had wind chimes as well.

They had a miniature model of the kiln as well too(:

There are two rooms that feature Imari and Arita ware, and I thought this vase was really interesting.

I wonder how they get the figure of the people to be slightly raised. Must be difficult to do.

I also really liked this tea set.

The temporary exhibit was on how you could use pottery to serve various desserts.

Each setting came with a photo of how it looked like when there was actual food in it, and a mini explanation that came with a menu.

I have no eye for these things but I thought they were all really pretty!

And me being short had a difficult time getting this picture. But the dog was just so cute that I had to get a photo.

You can also try your hand at painting some pottery too! Here's a list of what you can paint and the prices. You'll have to add 700 yen for the delivery (and it takes about a month because they bake everything at one go). Sadly, they don't deliver overseas.

I opted to paint a teacup because I've been wanting a personalised one for some time now.

They basically gave me two types of ink. One is thicker and is for drawing the outlines, which means that you can't paint over it. If you do, the final product will look quite disastrous.

The second one is more watery and you can paint several layers - the more you paint over it, the darker the finished product will be.

I ended up painting two types of "pictures" onto the cup.

And for the finishing touch - my name!

The cup shrinks after it's been baked in the kiln and I was quite surprised at how much bigger the unbaked cup was.

If you're wondering how I came up with the idea for the cup, I didn't. I used the reference book that they had and did my best to copy it (and while doing so, reminded myself why I'm not an art student).

Here's a picture of all the things that you can paint:

All in all, this is a great way to spend a couple of hours. I enjoyed wandering around and exploring the place and I can't wait for my mug to come (although according to the uncle that was at the center, the cup will come only after I forget about it).

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Okawachiyama Part 2: Lunch + Rest of Village

You can read the first part here.

After making my way from one end of the village to the other, I decided to take a break for lunch. There are only a few cafes in the village, and not all of them were open, so if you've got picky eaters with you, I'd recommend having lunch before coming here. But, you should definitely take a tea break in one of the cafes, because it's a great way to try some of the pottery!

The front part is the shop and there were SO MANY TEAPOTS.

I really, really, wanted to get a set but I just got that Lupicia teapot/jug combi that I use a lot, so it wouldn't make sense to get more.

They were also selling light switches, which I found to be really pretty as well!

While I normally only take one or two photos of my food, I took individual photos of each dish because everything was in such pretty containers (except my orange juice, which was in a glass and hence does not get a photo). This is the cup for water:

And I didn't even know wet tissues got their own containers! It also looks like a good size for dessert forks and spoons.

If you need toothpicks:

I could totally see this as a sort of pencil holder as well (although if it was mine I'd probably break it in a week...)

This was on the table next to me and I found it absolutely adorable! It just goes to show that pottery can be fun too.

I got a prawn pilaf which came with a cup of soup. It was 550 yen for the pilaf and soup, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

And because I really, really, wanted to drink something in a porcelain cup, I ordered a glass of tea as well. The tea was supposed to come in a glass as well, but the ladies at the shop will change it to a porcelain cup for you if you ask. Or if you drink coffee, you could just order that and save yourself the extra step:

I really like how the coaster matches!

After lunch, I started heading back to the entrance of the village, using a different route.

This bridge is the Tonbai bridge.

I'm not sure why there is pottery in the walls lining the river but I couldn't resist getting a closer look! And then promptly got chased away by a bee.

I think this spot would be absolutely breathtaking in autumn, when the momiji leaves are red!

Also, I find it really cute that even the sign for the restroom is made out of pottery.

There's a viewing area as well, but the view is not great. The most interesting thing was this wall, so I wouldn't really recommend going to this area. You could just walk around the kilns some more (apparently Okawachiyama is also known as the 'village of secret kilns' because it's surrounded by mountains).

I'm not sure why but I really liked the light here. Of course, my picture does not do it justice at all.

I also saw one of the stepped kilns! According to the guide, these kilns are built in a style resembling the kilns in Jingdezhen (pronounced "Keitokuchin" in Japanese. The kanji is 景德镇). These kilns were used to make porcelain for shoguns and emperors!

After a while, I found myself back at the carpark that I parked in! This village is definitely a good place to wander around in(:

Next (and last) post: the Imari-Arita ware traditional craft center + I try painting a cup.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Okawachiyama Part 1: The Village

So yesterday I decided to actually use my rest day to go out. I decided to go to Ookawachiyama (大川内山 - link leads to their Japanese website), which is a place that I've been wanting to go for a while. Originally, I planned to go there on the 22nd of July, because there was going to be some sort of lantern event going on, but I had work. Still, I wanted to go before the wind chime festival was over so without really thinking about it, yesterday became that day.

Ookawachiyama is about 40 minutes away from Sasebo (by car). I managed to make it there using the voice navigation of Google maps, but I did get lost once, so I would really recommend you go with someone who can read a map.

Also, there is parking! I didn't really research this well enough, but I decided to trust in the fact that the village had a website and therefore must have made arrangements for visitors. The car park I ended up in had this little rest shop at the entrance with a really pretty porcelain mural at the front!

The white and blue bridge is the "Nabeshima Clain Kiln Bridge with Tile and Ceramic Dragons". At the back is the potters' grave, where about 880 unknown graves are gathered into a pyramid. According to a sign near the grave, many Korean potters came to Japan after Japan's invasion attempt of Korea in the 1950s. Their graves face Korea, symbolising their desire to go home.

I almost went to the graves to take photos but I realised that this was a grave and managed to stop myself in time.

And since it was still the wind chime festival, I managed to take lots of photos!

I'm not too sure what this wheel is for but I liked it.

As well as the big mural that depicted the village.

This is basically a collection of pottery shops and it's a good (or perhaps I should say dangerous?) place to come to if you're looking to get cups, plates, bowls, etc.

The first thing I did was to walk to the entrance of the village, because I wanted to see the Potters' Bridge. 

To the left of the bridge was a monument of the crown prince and princess.

The ground in front of the potter's bridge is covered with broken pieces of pottery and it made this really pretty tinkling sound when I walked across it. Well, sometimes anyway. At other times you just hear the porcelain breaking and I decided to be a lot more careful not to fall.

At the other side of the bridge were some wind chimes and this little garden, with water falling into the pond periodically.

This is the little house that provides the water.

After looking around, I walked back towards the village, following the path of the river.

The river basically forks into two near the Nabeshima clan kiln bridge (one leads to it and the other leads to the stone bridge below).

The village is exactly like what I saw in the google photos! It's very lovely and quiet and it was a pleasure to just wander around and listen to the wind chimes. I took several videos and pieced them together so if you're interested, you can watch it and hopefully get a feel of what I experienced.

I was so tempted to get something, but I managed to exercise some self-control (for the moment).

And more photos of the windchimes.

If you'd like to learn more about the town, you can download a PDF of the map that they give out at this link. The PDF is basically a map of the town and a few explanations of key points. And like I mentioned, here's the video that I mentioned earlier:

Next post: Lunch + the rest of the village