The Gojozaka area in the East of Kyoto, near Kiyomizu temple has been famous for its pottery for hundreds of years with a huge number of little local pottery producers and tiny shops. If you walk the streets in the area, you’ll notice tables outside that look like no more than somebody’s home with tables outside covered in pottery goods with just a sign telling how much and a box to put your money in and take what you like in a lovely display of trust!
If you like the idea of trying your hand at the local style of pottery why not try it yourself at Housengama? Just a short walk from Shichijo station on the Keihan line (Head east along Shichijo and turn left when you get to Cocoichi curry and you’ll find it!)
The owner who gives you the pottery lesson is really friendly, he only spoke limited English but one of the girls working there helped out and he was able to show us what we were doing when we had trouble!
The first part of the lesson was teaching us how to use the potter’s wheels, using the pedals without going too fast or slow and then we had a go with the clay itself! We were shown how to gently shape the clay into bowls and cups and to make everything bigger than what we wanted the finished product to be as the clay shrinks when it is fired. We all had time to make three items while we were there; I made a bowl and two Japanese style cups.
Included in the price of the lesson are 2 pieces to take home with you. Once you’ve shaped the clay you can pick the style and colour of the glaze from a selection in the workshop and they will fire and glaze them for you and they’ll be ready in 2 weeks.
They will post your finished items to you or if you’re still in town you can always go and pick them up yourselves. If you’re happy with all of your items though you can have more than 2 fired and glazed for 1000 yen each for the extras. I know when we went we wanted to keep all of them! The finished pieces looked great and I always enjoy using the pieces knowing that I made them myself!