Doro de Asobu: Japanese Ceramics

Making pottery is one of my newer hobbies and definitely one of the funnest things I’ve picked up since moving to Japan. It’s a national art form here, and even today there are tiny villages all over Japan where you can go and watch the locals throw in their regional styles. There are a million different styles of pottery (yaki 陶芸). I love Karatsu (唐津焼 ) and Raku ware  (楽焼 ).

Making pottery is relaxing, creative, tactile… and as far as art goes, it’s one of the more practical forms since you can basically make your own dishes and gifts. Taking a lump of wet goo and transforming it into something lovely and useful is a very satisfying way to spend my time.


Not all clays are created equal– white clay is good for beginners because it holds its shape well. Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 8.54.44 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.34.32 PM

I learned basic throwing at Uzumako Art School in Mito. A small clay studio just a few minutes from the station, and Teimour (the sensei) is super chill and wonderful to work with.

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Red is gorgeous, but a little wiley… I switched to red after throwing white a few times and immediately noticed the difference.

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I also went up to Kasama in Ibaraki to work with Kasama clay (kind of a mix of red and white– it’s special to the region and SO pretty). I had no translator and none of the studio staff spoke English, so they basically just set me up and let me do my thing. I wrote about it for Savvy a while back.


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I’m going back to California for the holidays and I’m hoping to find a place to throw so I can compare notes. I also want to learn some hand working techniques, and maybe play with some oven clay. In Japan, homes don’t have ovens, so I’m hoping my family doesn’t mind if I bake a little clay while I’m there. 🙂

Here are some cool inspiration shots from Urban Comfort, where Suzonne uses oven clay. I’m  absolutely trying to make these leaf bowls when I get home. So pretty.

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There’s something about getting your hands dirty and making something that is really special. I don’t know what it is… but I like it. If you’re into clay or are an experience ceramicist… send some links my way! I’m always looking for photos and tips. 🙂

Dirty hands and warms hearts,


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