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Passing Down the Beauty of Handicrafts

Pottery is the first synthetic material ever created by humans. It has played an important role in the human history, for living and for ceremonial purposes. Pottery and ceramics have been recognized as one of the most important cultural resource. I came to Kanazawa as an overseas student of Graduate Program in Cultural Resource Management, and knew that Ishikawa prefecture was famous for traditional ceramics production.


We visited Toide Pottery Workshop, “Tsuchibito”, on April 26th.The owner of this workshop is Mr. Katsuhiko Toide, the third-generation successor of Toide Pottery Workshop which has produced Kutaniyaki. Kutaniyaki is a traditional ceramics art in Ishikawa prefecture with overglazed painting, using vivid colors such as blue, green, yellow and bold. The southern cities of Ishikawa such as Komatsu, Kaga, and Nomi are famous as a production center of Kutaniyaki. It receives high acclaim as the best porcelain with overglazed painting in Japan, earning praise in particular for its uniqueness and the powerful beauty of its shapes. During this visit, I was very impressed not only by the glorious history of Kutaniyaki, but also by people I met in this workshop. Mr. Toide is an artist who uses his amazing skill of making Kutaniyaki, turning the soil into beautiful arts, daily appliances and utensils. His wife, Ms. Toide, is a Kaga Yuzen artist who uses the traditional dyeing techniques making, for instance, white tablecloths into colorful and fashionable ones. I felt that those beautiful articles and handicrafts made by them showed the enormous capabilities and potentials of first-rate artists.   


In this workshop, we had the chance to experience the shaping process of tea bowls. We thrusted hands into dirt and transforms clay into shapes by molding it with pressure from the thumb and index finger and keep turning it. Everyone made their own unique tea bowls. It is quite interesting. The experience of creating own work of art is well worth it.


Through this brief experience of making the tea bowl. I am sure that the outstanding skills and capabilities of Mr. Toide cannot be built within short time. It takes times and lots of practicing. Lessons are learned and skills are improved through many and many trial-and-errors. In addition, standing on the shoulders of giants is also important. The importance of traditional crafts as intangible cultural heritage is the wealth of knowledge and skills transmitted from one generation to the next. Skills are honed and refined, and there come new discoveries. Those new discoveries are then evaluated and created upon, leading to more refinement. The cycle is endless, and the cycle often progresses in local workshops and small-scale ventures like the Toide family. With the endless cycle, Kutaniyaki continues developing nowadays.  (Maggie)


Pottery Workshop Mr. Toide
Dish and cup of Toide Workshop
Listening to Ms. Toide