Hasami (波佐見) is a town in Higashisonogi (東彼杵) District, Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県) that is well known for being among the leading pottery districts in Japan. It has a rich tradition of producing ceramics for more than 400 years. During the Edo (江戸) period, porcelain was first made in Hasami and was initially produced for the commoners. It was distributed in Japan and was also exported to Europe, the Netherlands, and Indonesia. This traditional Japanese pottery made in Hasami is known as Hasami ware (波佐見焼).
After the Japanese invaded Korea, a Korean potter named Li Youqing (李祐慶) was brought to Japan in 1599. Then, manufacturers in Hasami began to make climbing kilns and potteries. Later on, they discovered materials to make porcelain and began to make them, too.
The typical design of Hasami ware features cobalt blue underglaze and celadon. One of the most popular Hasami porcelain is Kurawanka-wan (くらわんか碗), which is a simple bowl designed for the commoners. Hasami porcelains are produced in big climbing kilns and its low cost contributes to its popularity all over Japan and in other countries.
Today, manufacturers of Hasami ware aim to develop new methods to produce excellent porcelain for daily use. Nowadays, many Hasami ware feature modern and sleek designs besides traditional ones. There is an emphasis on producing ceramic ware that are user-friendly, such as having attributes like easiness to store, being lightweight, and easiness to hold. There is also a demand for cookware that is compatible with stoves or direct flame. The Hasami ware industry is also working towards creating totally lead-free tableware.
If you are a porcelain and ceramic enthusiast, you cannot miss out on the Museum of Ceramic Art and the Ceramics Park Hasami when you visit Nagasaki Prefecture. The museum not only showcases Hasami ware but is also a place for visitors to learn about the history of ceramics all over the world and how the technique from other countries was brought to Japan and influenced the creation of Hasami ware.
The museum has a collection of Hasami ceramics and porcelain. Besides the traditional and historical stuff, there are also works of contemporary artisans on display at the museum. There is a big exhibition room on the 2nd floor where visitors can get to know more about the ceramics of Kyushu.
Every year, the Hasami Spring Pottery Festival will take place between 29 April and 5 May at the Ceramics Park Hasami. This is the greatest pottery festival in Nagasaki Prefecture so you can expect it to be lively. There will be more than 100 booths set up by Hasami-based kilns and companies so you will have a variety of choice and the items will be on sale with a 30% to 40% discount. This is also an event where you can meet fellow pottery enthusiasts.
As it is a tented area, visitors can shop comfortably without worrying about the weather. There are also opportunities for visitors to try potter’s wheel and pottery painting classes. Additionally, there will be a photo contest based on the scenery of Hasami and a prize draw.
If you have an interest in pottery, then the Museum of Ceramic Art and the Hasami Spring Pottery Festival are definitely worth a visit. And remember, don’t leave Hasami without a souvenir!