Exploring Hiroshima

Vol.10 Hiroshima Pottery Workshop
Training Wheels: Pottery Workshop in Akiota Town

The Wind Fire Pottery workshop provides everything from a hands-on workshop to a home-cooked meal.

Wind Fire Pottery

Our first attempts at pottery

Our first attempts at pottery

In the northwest of Hiroshima in the town of Kake in Akiota, business is booming for seasoned potter Shunichi Hayashi. Since converting his storeroom on Route 191 into a pottery workshop two years ago, he has seen a continuous flow of customers willing to travel through the mountains to experience his classes.

 We went straight onto the wheel

We went straight onto the wheel

“When it’s busy, I get 100 customers a month through my doors for the workshops,” explains Hayashi. “I get to meet all kinds of interesting people - they come in from all corners of Japan.”

Hayashi was born and raised in Kake. At 19, he entered the pottery trade and moved to Kurashiki and then onto Okinawa. He returned to Kake 30 years ago and opened “Wind Fire Pottery” (or “Fuuen” in Japanese). Here he continued to work on his craft, producing his distinctive designs and selling them on-site.

Our teacher and expert potter Shunichi Hayashi

Our teacher and expert potter Shunichi Hayashi

He came upon the idea of the pottery workshop during his involvement with a local homestay B&B initiative to increase tourism to Kake, and thereby reinvigorating the local economy.

“In my mind, Japan is the home of pottery and people from abroad love to come and try different clays and techniques,” says Hayashi. “By opening this workshop, people can come and experience both pottery and life in this mountainous, rural area.”

A variety of Hayashi’s creations were on display in the shop

A variety of Hayashi’s creations were on display in the shop

The Workshop

We were free to create whatever we wanted.

We were free to create whatever we wanted.

The workshops are good value for money. The standard course consists of two hours at the wheel, where Hayashi gives hands-on advice and direction, followed by a tea break with locally grown tea, then 30 minutes or so of adding patterns and designs onto your creations. The finished cups and bowls are left to dry, fired and posted to your address - all inside two months.

Hayashi’s advice was easy to follow.

Hayashi’s advice was easy to follow.

Each creation is left to dry and fired within two months.

Each creation is left to dry and fired within two months.

You can add your own designs

You can add your own designs

For the full experience, there’s an option to include a meal with the workshop. But this is no ordinary meal -the cooking happens inside Hayashi’s original “Tatara” nabe pot. Developed with the help of the prefecture, the Tatara pot is modeled on the Moroccan ‘Tajine’ and created for slow cooking. The base of the Tatara pot uses a compound clay where Hayashi has mixed granules of a rare crystal called Petalite. This makes the pot extremely strong, especially in high temperatures.

We were treated to a pot of Moroccan-style cuisine. Cooked over a low heat while we were busy shaping our clay, the dish was piping hot and ready to serve as soon as we finished.

The Tatara pot cuisine that slowly cooked while we worked at the wheel

The Tatara pot cuisine that slowly cooked while we worked at the wheel

We had some delicious Moroccan cuisine.

We had some delicious Moroccan cuisine.

“I named it Tatara, after the famous Tatara steel forges that were a common sight in the mountains of Kake,” says Hayashi. “It’s difficult to make these Tatara pots, because the lid has to fit perfectly”, explains Hayashi.

There was a reason the lid had to fit so snugly. Sealed inside the earthenware pot and under a very low heat, the ingredients begin to cook in their own juices. By the time it’s ready, the ingredients are tender and immersed in a rich stock. The Tatara pot made cooking look easy. But if you want one you’ll have to act fast. As each pot takes so much time and resources to create, there is only a limited number available at any one time.

The basic price for a workshop for two to six people lasting two and a half hours is ¥3,800 per person. With the Tatara pot meal it’s ¥5,000. See this page for full price lists and contact
information: http://fuuen.com/TOG/index.htm

 Mr. Hayashi and his wife Kuniko. You’re in good hands even if you’re a beginner.

Mr. Hayashi and his wife Kuniko. You’re in good hands even if you’re a beginner.

Hayashi’s original pottery character “Kanamechan and Ochiyo”

Hayashi’s original pottery character “Kanamechan and Ochiyo”

 The interior to the Fuuen shop.

The interior to the Fuuen shop.

Words and Photography by Tom Miyagawa Coulton. (Visited in January 2018.)

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