Shichiemon pottery shop and school is a place of beauty.
It’s a combination of the beautiful pottery for sale in the store, the little flower garden with tables and stools outside their pottery school, and the warm and generous characters that make it something special.
We head to the shop at the end of a very long, hot day and are welcomed enthusiastically by Takahashi san, the small, vibrant proprietress. We explain that we were hoping to have a look around at the school and the pottery studio and she gives us directions and tells us to take our time, but to be sure to come back for some tea afterwards.
We first head to the studio, where things are slowing down for the evening, but the one remaining potter there allows us to look around and take some photos. He even answers a couple of questions for us, but briefly, as he is focusing intently on the clay spinning under his hands.
As we leave the studio, we meet a couple of junior high school kids doing their ‘summer homework’; collecting cans and crushing them, with enthusiasm only people of that age could have in 30 degree heat. They are friendly and interested, and happily chat to us for a while, before pointing the way to the pottery school across the road.
In the school, a wide, sparse room on the second floor, the teachers welcome us and invite us to watch. The students, a few small groups of university students, shyly show us their work and allow me to take some photos.
At the school, ¥2000 buys you a kilo of clay, which makes roughly two cups, and 90 minutes in the studio. You can make whatever you like, and ask for help and advice. When you’re done, you choose the color and glaze you like, and leave your masterpiece in the capable hands of the Shichiemon potters.
It takes a minimum of one week, and sometimes as much as three to paint and bake it, and when it’s ready, they call you to come and pick it up; so travellers wanting to try their hand at crafting something beautiful should make this the first stop on their itinerary.
We head back to the shop, where I could spend hours browsing the pottery; each piece is unique and beautiful. They have everything you could ever conceive in clay; ashtrays, figurines, cups, bowls, jugs, plates, incense holders… For traditional, handmade pottery, the prices are very reasonable, too, and it would make wonderful gifts or souvenirs.
The students are finished by now, and Takahashi san welcomes them back to the shop with cold tea, seasoned eggplant and pickles. She insists that we also have something to eat and drink, and we get comfortable on the floor in a corner of the shop.
When we’ve had as much tea and snacks as she can press on us, we reluctantly leave the beautiful little shop, and she farewells us like old friends.
I fully recommend the Shichiemon pottery shop experience, for shopping or crafting, and if you’re lucky enough, for a nice cup of tea.