Shigaraki Pottery Experience

Shigaraki ware is one of the six oldest kilns in Japan, located in Koka-city southern Shiga-pre, appoximately 1hour20mins by train from Kyoto. Koka-city is also famous as homeland of Koga-Ninja, if you are intrested in Ninja please see previous blog dated on 23Aug 2015.

Shigaraki ware has long history, it is thought to have gegun in the Kamakura period(1185-1333). They started to produce tiles for the construction of Shigaraki-no-miya Palace, and then Tsubo(jars), Suribachi(mortars), bottles, are produced by around the end of medieval period. Especially during the Muromachi period(1336-1573) and Momoyama period(1573-1600), Shigaraki tea ware developed as Japanese tea ceremony was born in Kyoto.

Shigaraki today produces variety of items such as tea cup, tiles, umbrela stands, planters, vases, tableware,etc…  and we can not talk about Shigaraki ware without Shigaraki-tanuki (statue of raccoon dogs – below pictures). Most of Japanese people image statue of raccoon dogs when they hear “shigaraki” . You will find this everywhere in Japan, they are usually placed at the entrance of Japanese style tavern(izakaya) or Soba restaurants.

Upon arrival at Shigaraki station, Shigaraki-tanukis were greet us on the platform.  We realized that we are now in famous town of pottery.

As we walked on the street, plenty of Shigaraki-tanukis everywhere in the town. People believe
Shigaraki-tanuki bring good luck.

shigaraki-05We visited “Pottery Hishisan-touen” to do pottery experience.



shigaraki-06This is DONABE rice cooker, earthenware pot, made of Shigaraki clay. It is too difficult for us(bigginers)  to make this shape from clay, need much more skills, so they provided for us.

shigaraki-08What we do today is to creat original designs on the surface of DONABE and its lid. Satoko-san, Eri-san and Fumiko-san challenged. I am looking forward to seeing how they make it.

shigaraki-09Satoko-san start to engrave something immediately.  ummmmm I wander what … !

He is a professional potter and our teacher for today.

shigaraki-12Fumiko-san is trying diffrent way, sticking something on the lid. ummmm it seems rice cake or might be leaves ?

Around 30minutes later, Eri-san completed.. Her work is very simple, polka dots, its so lovely isn’t it ?

shigaraki-15Fumiko-san also finished.  She decorated the lid with flowers, plum-blossoms and cherry-blossoms, arranged various size, so beautifull isn’t it ?

shigaraki-16Finaly satoko-san completed. This is ears of rice with pair of red dragonflies. It must be near to harvest time. The DONABE is mostly used to boil rice. I was very impressed her imagination.

shigaraki-21These tools are available. I think it is better to bring something your image such as pictures or

shigaraki-22Fumiko-san(left), Eri-san(middle) and Satoko-san(right), so happy with thier works. Pottery Hishisan-touen keeps their DONABE and drying, glazing and finaly bake them in a kiln. It will be delivered to them one month later.

This is one of the larget Nobori-gama in Japan. It is a chambered climbing kiln constracted on a sloop for the burning process. This is not used as kiln today, now it is used as gallery or coffe shop.

shigaraki-23After pottery experience, we moved to local house within Shigaraki town for DONABE workshop. This house is owned by Mr.Tanaka, an old Japanese style house.

shigaraki-24Japanese style veranda and fusuma(sliding doors) .

shigaraki-25We were invited into traditonal tatami room, very nice atomoshere.

shigaraki-26Mr.Tanaka’s wife, Mutsumi-san provided lunch for us. She liks cooking and regurally organize cooking class here at home. Our main dish today is Ohmi beef.


shigaraki-28DONABE work shop – This is demonstration how to boil rice in DONABE.  Most of the people use electrick rice-cooker as it is much easier. However some peole prefer to use DONABE as high qolity flavor rice is cooked.

shigaraki-29We start to grill the meal and vegetables untill rice is ready.

shigaraki-30Almost ready to eat. getting hungry… Ha ha ha

shigaraki-31The rice is just ready in good timing. It looks so good.

shigaraki-32Everybody’s here, smile and say cheese !

shigaraki-33There are so many pottery shops in Shigaraki town.

koga-08This photo is taken in August this year.  Look, what a big Shigaraki-tanuki that is, 4times bigger than me.





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