Seto Pottery Town

Shannon Payton is a teacher currently residing in Nagoya as part of an exchange program. A native of South Philadelphia, she brings a local perspective to her travel encounters – including how to make spaghetti out of soba noodles. Join her as she stumbles on art and other adventures at her blog, The Wanderista.

As a follow up to our trip to Tokoname, we decided to try another famous pottery scene, Seto. A little background info on the pottery here from wikipedia:

Until the 17th century, unglazed stoneware was popular for the heavy-duty daily requirements of a largely agrarian society; funerary jars, storage jars, and a variety of kitchen pots typify the bulk of the production. Some of the kilns improved their technology and are called the “Six Old Kilns”: Shigaraki (Shigaraki ware), Tamba, Bizen, Tokoname, Echizen, and Seto. Among them, Seto kiln in Owari Province had a glaze technique. According to legend, Katō Shirozaemon Kagemasa (also known as Tōshirō) studied ceramic techniques in China and brought high-fired glazed ceramic to Seto in 1223. It developed various glazes: ash, iron black, feldspar white, and copper green. The wares were so widely used that Seto-mono (“product of Seto”) became the generic term for ceramics in Japan.

Unfortunately, since it was during the holiday, the town was kind of dead. Lots of the little shops and galleries were closed. I’ll do a proper post on the town when we go back. But we still had a nice time and saw a really cool pottery museum with pieces dating back from the Jōmon period (circa 10,000 BC – circa 300 BC) set up in a timeline so you can see the change.

Setomono often looks like the traditional blue and white ceramic glaze associated with China

Setomono often looks like the traditional blue and white ceramic glaze associated with China

We wandered around the town a while and went along the pottery path. It was a kind of hiking path with bamboo and green all around. Though the galleries on the path were closed, we found some little surprises hiding in the grass.

This in a miniture model of some old style houses in Seto

This in a miniture model of some old style houses in Seto

Hidden setomono pottery

Hidden setomono pottery

Again, I’ll have a better update when I go back and see some modern setomono from the galleries.

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