Hello, Tohoku Lovers and to be Tohoku Lovers!
This year in January I had the opportunity to experience making pottery in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.
Ever since I read some manga with a famous potter in it, I’ve been interested in it. This feeling was reinforced several months ago when I watched an anime called “Honey and Clover” where one of the characters was a potter. Having now lived in Japan for more than three years it amazes me that I still haven’t tried pottery at least once.
This had to change.
The first thing I did was to go online and look for places to try pottery near Sendai where I reside. Possibly because I wasn’t good with googling in Japanese, I wasn’t able to find much information. That’s when I came upon this homepage. It was perfect. The website included pictures of the place that looked beautiful, there was a phone number for inquiries, and the price was also given – 1000 yen for a one time experience course (体験) + 1500 yen for the clay (2500 yen in total).
As listed on the homepage
With a great online first impression and all the info I needed, I decided to give Mahiro Gama a go!
My first task was to make a reservation! This was done by phone (see useful info & links ). It is best to be prepared, as booking generally needs to occur 2 weeks prior to the date. It’s probably better if you can speak Japanese (or if you can’t, maybe ask help from a friend who can).
Once I reserved the date, all I needed to do was to figure out how to get there! I chose the cheapest method at hand, buses. It takes just one bus from Sendai station to the nearest bus stop which is located at about a 20 min walk away from Mahiro Gama. The bus ride, however, will take 50 minutes (more access info below: useful info & links )
Mahiro Gama is owned and run by the lovely and charismatic Masahiro Kinokuniya (Mahiro-san). The workshop itself is basically a log house which is just stunningly beautiful. I thought that it had a very warm feeling to it. When you get inside, one the first things you see is the kiln (the place where you fire the clay to create a ceramic, like a very hot oven) on the left.
The workshop itself took place next to the room with the kiln.
Inside the workshop
After taking a quick look around the place, we finally started the main event:
We started by deciding what I wanted to make. I said that I wanted to make a cup to hold hot drinks since I currently don’t have one (I actually do but it’s from a 100 yen shop and is just awful).
Mahiro-san then gave me some clay that had been pre-kneaded to rid any air-bubbles (since air inside the clay can lead to cracking during firing). He cut a piece of clay and gave it to me. I flattened this piece and used it as the base (a). Then, he cut another piece of clay which I rolled to shape it like a rod/tube (b). I used this rod/tube like clay to make a circle (c) which I place on top of the base (d). After smoothing the inner and outer side of this structure, the same process b, c, and d were repeated layer by layer and slowly it took the shape of the cup.
Steps to making the cup
a cup in the making
The finished cup~
The cup was intentionally made bigger than the target size since the clay will shrink in later processes. After finishing the cup, it turned out that we still had some extra clay and Masahiro-san proposed that we made one more thing. And so, we did!
Can you guess what the second object is?
(Answer: a ‘shoyu’ or soy-sauce plate for when eating sashimi)
Last but not least, I got to choose the color of the cup and plate. I had 6 colored glazes to choose from. I chose the glaze, but the actual glazing and firing on the products I will leave in the hands of the master, so I can be sure the finished product will have beautiful colors ~
Colored glaze to choose from
After that Mahiro-san kindly took me back to the station. I went home feeling satisfied and looking forward to using a cup that I made by myself!
Here are some of the other lovely works on display at Mahiro Gama ~
USEFUL INFO & LINKS
Phone: 022 – 394 – 7458
**Reservations should be made two weeks in advance**
How to get there?
Car: Follow the google maps link:
Bus: From Sendai station take bus number X840 or S840 to 仙台環境開発ＳＰ宮城広瀬前 (it’s some sort of gym). From there it’s a 20 minute walk to Mahiro Gama. (610 yen one way trip)
Train: It is impossible to only go by train. However, if there are no student at the workshop when you go there, Mahiro san will be happy to pick you up at Ayashi station. If that is the case (confirm by phone first), take Senzan line and get down at Ayashi station. Call him when you arrive. (320 yen one way trip)
How much is it?
1500 yen for the clay + 1000 yen for the class, so 2500 yen in total (per person)
Is it worth it?
I think so! Mahiro-san is a very nice guy and the place is beautiful. The access is a little bit tricky, but the price is very cheap. I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve never had the chance to try pottery before.
When will I get the finish product?
It depends on when Mahiro-san will do the firing. Since it is expensive to do it, he usually waits until he has a few pieces that he can fire in one go, so he doesn’t have to do it too many times. So, this activity is mostly recommended for those who plan stay in Sendai for several months (or who don’t mind waiting!).