Seto

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Seto (Aichi)
Tour Code: OK0627
Tour Fee: 12300 Discount Price: 9850

Date: Sunday, June 27th

Located 25 kilometres northeast of Nagoya in the low mountains of the Owari Hills, Seto is most well-known as one of the Nihon Rokkoyo. The term “Nihon Rokkoyo” is used to refer to the six oldest pottery centers in Japan – Shigaraki (Shiga), Tanba (Hyogo), Echizen (Fukui), Bizen (Okayama), Tokoname, and Seto (both located in Aichi).

The majority of the 130,000 people living in Seto are involved in the city’s ceramics and pottery industry in some way, and visitors will notice immediately the influence that the 1300-year history of this craft, the longest of any area in Japan, has had on the city.

In Japan the word Seto-mono, is synonymous with the word “pottery”. The location of Seto makes it ideal for the production of pottery and ceramics. The soil around the city contains good quality porcelain clay and silica (used in making glass), and there were (and still are) verdant forests nearby to provide firewood and charcoal for fuel, although these days the main fuel is natural gas. Ancient kilns used to make pottery in Seto have been discovered in various parts of the city, and number over 1000.

The history of ceramics in Seto dates back to the Heian period (794-1185), with the creation of Akazu-yaki ware, a type of pottery where the clay could be glazed in a number of different ways before it was fired. Seto became recognized as one of the six “Nihon Rokkoyo” during the Kamakura period (1158-1333), and it stood out from the other areas as it was the only area to glaze its pottery. During this time, Seto also became known for producing tenmoku teabowls, which prior to that time had always been imported from China. However, as the demand for these teabowls grew, production began in Seto. As Seto was the only area in Japan that glazed its products, it was the only place able to make the black-glazed bowls. As a result, the form, style and color of its products differed greatly from those of the other five “Nihon Rokkoyo”. During the Edo period (1603-1868), Seto’s ceramic industry flourished thanks to the production of various items ranging from everyday household items to exquisite works of art. In 1807, Kato Tamikichi brought porcelain-making techniques to Seto from the Kyushu region. Consequently, the production of porcelain products in Seto grew and became famous in many areas of the world as Seto chinaware. Seto is currently the largest producer of ceramic novelties, such as animal and bird figurines, dolls, ash trays, light stands, and flower vases. These items were originally only made for export, but have recently become popular with Japanese customers, as well.

It is often said that the city of Seto is a museum in itself. Today we will be exploring a number of locations, and making ceramics with a Master Potter.

We will visit the Fukagawa Shrine, Touhiko Shrine & Komainu. Just by walking around Seto, one can experience the influence that the ceramics industry has had on the town. The Fukagawa and Touhiko shrines are located right next to each other. Komainu are dogs, usually found in pairs, that guard the entrance to shrines all over Japan. There is one Komainu enshrined inside the Fukagawa shrine, who is said to have been granted a more expressive face than the other Komainu by Toushiro, out of thankfulness for his success in his field. Toushiro himself is enshrined in Touhiko shrine.

In the Hora-machi district, there are fences and walls called Kamagaki no Komichi, which are made out of various shapes of ceramic pieces used as supporters during the firing of pieces in the kiln. The bridges which run along the Seto River are also works of art in themselves, and there are also many pottery walls where one can see designs made by the city’s children.

And we will then be making ceramics!

The fee includes lunch, lessons with master potter, all materials, glazing and firing, and shipment (after firing) of your ceramics to anywhere in the world you choose.

Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, Sunday, 8:30am. Returns: 5:30pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 14 days prior
Tour Code: OK0627 (needed for application form below)

Click here to apply (opens new window).