Tokoname, Kunizakari Sake

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Ceramics: Tokoname Pottery Workshop, Noborigama tour, Kunizakari Sake (Aichi)
Tour Code: OK0718
Tour Fee: 9700 Discount Price: 7300

Date: Monday, July 18th

Tokoname is located about 40 minutes by train south of Nagoya on the western side of the Chita peninsula, overlooking Ise Bay. A small city with a population of about 52,000 people, Tokoname manufactures machinery, textiles and brews Japanese sake. Mr Akio Morita (the former chairman of SONY Corporation) was the first born son of a family that have been brewing sake in Tokoname for more than 400 years, and it was initially intended that he would inherit the business. Sake’s loss was electronic’s gain, but fortunately Akio had a younger brother and the sake brewing continues.

The largest industry in Tokoname by far is the famous ceramics, as Tokoname is one of the so-called Six Old Kilns of Japan – the other five are Seto, Echizen, Shigaraki, Tamba, and Bizen – which have been major centers of ceramics production since the Kamakura period. There have been kilns in use in Tokoname possibly since the later stages of the Heian period. Ancient kilns have been discovered all over Japan, from Hiroshima to as far north as Aomori Prefecture – but the number of kilns counted in Tokoname number over 3000, more than any other area of Japan.

Of the six old kiln towns, and the many other minor ceramic centers, Tokoname is perhaps the best in that it is the least touched, and most atmospheric ceramic town in Japan. With a history nearly 1,000 years old, it is still filled with old black wood buildings and narrow winding streets. we will do a walking tour, and visit a famous Noborigama, a wood/charcoal fired “climbing kiln” technique said to be introduced from Korea, the high temperatures insides these kilns provided masterpieces.

We will also visit a fascinating museum (the former home of the family who owned a local shipping firm) and spend some time making ceramics in the workshop inside the home of a master potter. We can arrange for the ceramics to be shipped to you after they have been fired in the kilns.

From Tokoname, we head to nearby Handa, and visit the Kunizakari Sake Museum. Located on an inlet on the eastern side of the Chita peninsula and connected to Mikawa Bay, the sake brewers of Handa prospered during the Edo Period providing high quality sake to the population of Edo (now Tokyo). Of the 4 major sake brewing areas – Hiroshima, Nada (just east of modern Kobe), Fushimi (just south of Kyoto, at the tidewater mark), Handa was the easternmost, and the only area from which ships did not need to sail around the treacherous waters of the Kii Peninsula enroute to Edo and eastern Japan.

The Handa area had an advantage over other local brewers in Aichi in that there was access to high purity well water, good rice, but above all, access to the sea for distribution. The museum is small, but contains a fantastic collection of items from the Edo period brewery, and at the end of the tour, a small bar when you can sample the products of the modern brewery. Kanpai!

Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, Saturday, 8:30am. Returns: 7:30pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 14 days prior
Tour Code: OK0718 (needed for application form below)

Click here to apply (opens new window).