There are two old pottery towns near Kyoto, Shigaraki and Iga that are closely related to each other. The traditional works from both towns are identifiable by the coarse clay which contains alot of feldspar. Shigaraki is more associated with larger works such as tsubos and Iga more with chadogu such as mizusashi and flower vases. I have visited Iga only on one occasion, it is an interesting castle town as well as being the hometown of the haiku poet Matsuo Basho. Shigaraki is only an hour's drive from Kyoto. Recently in April I was driving out there alot as I have started an apprenticeship with a potter there. The master potter, a well-known figure in Shigaraki creates unglazed wood-fired pottery known as Yakishime. His works are pure and traditional Shigaraki, yet they are very identifiable amongst other Shigaraki wares by the extra roughness of his clay and the eccentric markings and tears on his vessels created by a saw. Since my interest in pottery began I have been drawn to wood-fired anagama works, the natural glazes created by melting ash in the anagama-firing have a powerful beauty, that can't be matched by applied glazes fired in an electric or gas kiln. For this reason I sought out an apprenticeship with a Shigaraki potter and have now been getting experience in anagama firing. In April, Sensei had an exhibition in a department store in Nagoya, I was in Shigaraki everyday for two weeks helping with the firing. Here are some photos :
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