Craft Pottery from the Clay and Glaze of Kagoshima (1.5hrs)
With a history dating back more than 300 years, Ryumonji ware is a representative type of the Kuro Satsuma (black-bodied ceramic) folk craft, which along with Shiro (white) Satusma, constitute the two types of Satsuma ware. This Ryumonji ware kiln, built in 1688, lies in the mountains overlooking the Sakurajima volcano. Ryumonji ware is distinct to Kagoshima and can only be produced in the region. All the ingredients for the clay and glaze are collected from nearby mountains, and are then refined and mixed locally. In this program, observe craft techniques such as clay and glaze-making, pottery shaping, kiln firing, and more. Afterwards, a craftsperson will teach you how to create your very own Ryumonji ware piece with a potter’s wheel.
- ● Experience pottery at a kiln where clay and glaze are still collected and refined locally, a rare sight in today’s world
- ● Observe rarely seen artisan techniques, such as clay making
- ● Create an original bowl or cup with the guidance of an expert craftsperson
- ● Enjoy a tea break with Ryumonji ware and sample a local specialty sweet, kajiki manju
- ● A craftsperson will glaze, fire, and ship your original pottery by mail
- ● Shop at a gallery filled with an assortment of Ryumonji ware
Aira, Kagoshima Prefecture: Living History of the Meiji Restoration
Not far from the Kirishima Hot Springs lies Aira, a land where the history of the 19th century Meiji Restoration is so entrenched that it is said to be a “sacred place for historical TV dramas.” Mossy cobblestones create a mysterious atmosphere at Tatsumonjizaka, a road that the famous samurai Saigo Takamori took on his journey southwest. Verdant Kagoshima greenery glistens behind the nearby Kinzan Bridge’s exquisite archway, built by the Shimazu family around 1890 as part of a mining business. In a land with such a rich history, the Ryumonji ware craft tradition has been around since long before the Meiji Restoration.
Pottery Unique to Its Land
The Satsuma wares of Kagoshima can be divided into two categories: White Satsuma that uses light-colored clay, and Black Satsuma, which is made from the dark shirasu soil from volcanic regions. Ryumonji ware specializes in Black Satsuma pieces that can incorporated into everyday life. All the ingredients for its clay and glaze are harvested from local mountains and refined in the workshop. Few makers still collect raw materials in such a way. A variety of glazes make the natural beauty of Kagoshima come to life: from the brightly colored sansai (three-color) and gracefully beautiful “blue trailed black,” to the powerful presence of the dakatsu (lit. serpent) and samehada (lit. shark’s skin) glazes.
From Earth to Art: Make Ryumonji Ware with a Craftsperson
First learn about the history and unique characteristics of Ryumonji ware before observing pottery-making techniques directly from a craftsperson themselves. What you’ll see will depend on what step of the production process the workshop is completing that day, but the main contents of the tour include seeing the raw materials that go into clay and glaze, suihi elutriation (the process of refining clay), shaping vessels with a potter’s wheel, along with carving and glazing. After this, head to the doma earthen-floored workshop, a rarity in Japan, to try your hand at creating a rice bowl or teacup with a potter’s wheel. These vessels will then be glazed by a craftsperson, fired to completion, and then delivered to you at a later date. Finally, take a break with tea served in Ryumonji ware cup along with kajiki manju, a local sweet. Ryumonji ware is also available for purchase in the annex shop.
Monday to Saturday 10:00~ by request
About 1.5 hours
Japanese●Supplementary explanations in English via translation device or lecture board can be provided upon request. Please make a note in the message box during registration to request this service.※An English interpreter can also be arranged for an additional fee. Please contact UNA Laboratories for more details.
Minimum 2 / Maximum 6
3 days before the start of the tour (for example, please apply by October 7th for a tour that starts on October 10th)
Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)
Please wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty
|Note about Tour Conductors||
There will be no tour conductor from UNA Laboratories accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
20 to 8 days before the day preceding the tour start date: 20% of the tour fee
Travel Planning: Implementation
- UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
- 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
- TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
- Business Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
- *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
- *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.
- Monday to Saturday 10:00~ by request
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
※This program is scheduled to begin Spring 2021. If you would like to be notified when registration opens, please fill out the form below.
- About 1.5 hours
- Recommended Age
- Suitable for All Ages
- 8,500yen (tax included)
- ※shipping costs excluded