Fine China YAMAWA in Kawagoe −The historical store kept since the Meiji period(1868–1912) −
November 29, 2018
Kawagoe city in Saitama is well-known as a city of “kurazukuri” the old
warehouses buildings. There is a prominent building in Ichiban-gai street which is lined with historical old warehouse style buildings. This is the Fine China Store YAMAWA.
YAMAWA was built in the year 1893, the Meiji period and is a designated cultural property. You can see many fine pieces of potteries which are not only luxurious ones but also for daily use. There also are china pieces created by local artists.The store is so famous that it is often introduced by media and celebrities visit frequently, such as the Emperor and Empress or the Swedish royal couple.
YAMAWA has an adjoining pottery studio which is the warehouse with a quaint atmosphere. You can experience making pottery here by using the electric wheel or also make simple hand-built forms within 1 hour.
I tried making a pottery with an electric wheel for the first time! But I am so clumsy… Using a an electric wheel pottery only reminds me of a movie “Ghost”. ..
When I hesitated, a friendly craftsman told me “ Don’t worry about it” and
kindly helped me. I put on a rental apron and was given a short lecture. Then, let’s get started!I got my hands wet and arranged the form of clay on the rounded pottery’s wheel using my palms and fingertips. The feeling of the clay on my hands healed me inexpressibly. I felt at ease. During a conversation with the craftsman, I told what type of thing I wanted to make. I preferred to make a lipped bowl and my friend tried to make a lager bowl so that we got advice how big or thickness our bowls should be. I struggled to handle the clay which easily changed its shape by using slight pressure and changing the angle of my finger tips. It was so difficult!! Touching the clay made me feel free mind and I found myself not to be occupied by any thoughts. After completing the shape of the bowl, I had to choose ‘the color of a substance’ called Yuyaku, which is used to color the bowl through firing. I left my pottery with the craftsmen who bake it in a kiln and send it to me by post.
Ariya(Kawagoe’s goodwill ambassador for sightseeing) who took us to YAMAWA, gave it a shot with forming by hand instead of using a potter's wheel,while carrying her baby piggyback. She made prints of her baby’s hand and foot on the clay. It can be a good memento. This pottery studio is popular for tourists,parents and children like Ariya. The craftsmen in the studio said “Even though you don’t understand the language, you understand how to make it by showing actual procedure. As they say, working together can create communication beyond languages. I will receive the memory of the travel one month afterwords. This time difference makes more memorable. I fully concentrated on working using different parts of my brain than usual which was refreshing!
Going around the sightseeing spots, eating around the local foods and having this kind of experience in Kawagoe definitely became a wonderful memory.
A trivia：Ariya, Kawagoe’s goodwill ambassador, told me that there is a small guardian statue on the rooftop of YAMAWA. This protects you from evil sprits. If you have the chance you should definitely check it out to add another unique experience ti your travel.