Today was the last full day for our bonsai tour. Tokoname is one of the famous ancient kiln areas in Japan because of the local clay. In the world wide bonsai community people think that Tokoname is famous for bonsai containers, however in Japan the city of Tokoname is most famous for sewer tiles and ceramic bathroom fixtures. Bonsai containers are made in Tokoname, however there are excellent fine quality pots as well as inexpensive pots. Some of the contemporary Chinese pots are better than some of the Tokoname pots. So, just because a pot is made in Tokoname does not make it good.
There are however a handful of talented and skilled ceramic artists making bonsai containers for the domestic and foreign markets. Some of kilns have reduced their production, others have closed because of the economy and availability of quality Chinese containers.
Plaster molds used for making pressed bonsai containers
We took several taxis this morning, first to Isomura Shoten, a pot distributor where we looked around and shopped. After we went through his large selection we visited the top kilns in Tokoname. Yesterday we visited Gyozan, the current Number One potter. Today we went to the Ikko Kiln, and proceeded to the well known Yamaaki Kiln who originally made unglazed pots, now making a few glazed pots as well.
Sample tile glazes
We then walked to the Reiho Kiln where a potter demonstrated for us how to make a pressed pot. Reiho is famous for glazed containers, but is now making unglazed pots as well. Reiho and Koyo containers are my personal favorites and many of my finest deciduous bonsai are in their pots. Mr. Takeyama in Omiya Bonsai Village has many Koyo pots and I’ve been purchasing them from him for over 30 years.
Boy, have the prices gone up! I was truly surprised at the prices, especially for shohin bonsai pots as well. Many of the kilns are making a great number of shohin bonsai pots because of their popularity. I saw beautiful small pots, less than three inches long for over $200, and the exchange rate is pretty good now too.
Our group then visited the Shuho Kiln, Koyo Kiln and finally the Hattori Kiln. People would select pots from each kiln and they were taken back to Isomura Shoten for payment and packing. Everyone had a shopping bag full of pots and some with boxes as well.
Unusual glaze decoration by Mr. Koyo
Last year on our tour I introduced Julian Adams to the relaxing ritual of Japanese public baths. He now loves them as much as I do. We are at a different hotel this year which does not have a public bath. However the Nagoya airport is only one short train stop away so we went there for a bath then dinner.
Yes, men are not in the same area as women. In our bath area there was a sauna as well as five different pools: a scenic bath, Jacuzzi bath, cold bath, inclining activation bath and the vibration bath. This is the first time I’ve experienced the vibration bath. I’m not certain if there is electricity or ultra sonic waves, but when you sit down there is something vibrating on your back, then when you extend your feet forward towards the wall you shocked some more. If you get real close the shock becomes more intense and I had to jump out the first time. This was a very stimulating experience for me…
Tomorrow we head on home and this will be the eighth time I’ve crossed the Pacific Ocean this year. The weather forecast for Rochester calls for six inches of snow and I hope I don’t get stuck in Chicago for another three days like I experienced in February. I hope readers enjoyed my thoughts from Japan as well as the photos. Remember, more grammatically correct articles and finer photographs can be read in my International BONSAI magazine.
Enjoy the large kitty we saw near our last stop today as he waves sayonara to us while his two friends on the ground watch him.