Gifu prefecture is famous for its ceramics and there are a number of famous manufacturers in and around this area. The products from here are the number one products of Japan and there are a lot of shops, museums and display centers for ceramics in this prefecture. It was on a rainy Sunday when we went to Oribe hills Toki, Gifu prefecture. Upon entering the first building, there were a lot of people selling vegetables and fruits. Also, we could find dried fruits of different varieties on that side. That building complex has many hotels, gift stores and more.
Oribe Hills is one of the biggest displaying and selling areas for ceramic products of Toki area. There are a lot of shops offering wide variety of products. Kitchen utensils, sculptures, show items, all can be seen in big numbers and at different prices. There are also products from famous manufacturers of this area, they are unbelievably costly but beautiful. We entered the shop named Kanesho Toki Shizukikama. It has two floors. On the first floor, they were displaying many ceramic items like plates, bowls, cups, spoons and a wide variety of kitchen wares. Along the tableware, there were small and big sculptures of animals and birds.
One of their brochures says that October 4th is the ceramic day which is celebrated as ” chazuke” day, or the day or eating ochazuke. I heard the name of this dish for the first time, but I want to try it at least once. It says, even though ochazuke is a simple dish, the “ceremony” of using various combination of ceramics like chawan(rice bowl), small plates, yunomi(tea cup), kyusu(tea pot) and hashioki(chopstick rest) should be done by trying the dish.
The second floor has a number of items which they display in order to showcase them for those who want to order them in bulk, such as hotels, restaurants or such. They will manufacture the ordered sets deliver it to you. Opposite of this place is another similar shop, but with some more variety in items, like Japanese paintings on ceramic boards, huge vases and such.
The next shop that we visited is Ku-kan. It had huge collection of ceramics including washing basins, which were really cute and colourful, ceramic biwa, the Japanese musical instrument, vases, glass paintings, lamps and more. I saw some big cups with saucers there. I then remembered the story of three bears with a huge, average and small porridge bowls that I read in my childhood. There are yet more shops around named Potter .M, La Fiore, Hana Hana and other.
Within the streets of Oribe Hills there are a lot of manufacturers and shops with not only the traditional ceramics, but the modern and western style goods are also available in the shops. Each shop has its own characteristic feature and unique products. Oribe Hills have many festivals and events conducted on special days to popularise tableware and to encourage the use of ceramics.
At a restaurant at the front building of Oribe Hills, we found Japanese dishes including varieites of Udon, summer special Unagi rice and more!