Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beckoned by the cat : A Visit to Tokoname

One of the many things that have contributed to the development of Nagoya over the centuries is pottery. Ever since the establishment of Nagoya as the seat of the Owari clan of the Tokugawa shogunate, the area around it started developing and the presence of pottery towns in the surrounding towns of Tokoname, Seto and Tajimi contributed to this. 
In fact, two of the "Six Old Kins", the original kilns with improvised glazing technology, are in Tokoname and Seto. 

Tokoname is a city near Nagoya which is best known for 3 things : The Chubu Centrair International Airport( Nagoya airport), the American store Costco and the local Pottery. 

We visited Tokoname's pottery town on a Saturday in summer. Tokoname has been associated with production of ceramic ware since the Heian period and over the centuries the town flourished due to its high quality products. Remains of the ceramics from Tokoname have been excavated in various parts of Japan right from the northern Tohoku region to Kyushu in the south which proves its popularity. The ceramic ware of Tokoname is known as "Tokoname-yaki". Even today ceramic ware is the mainstay of the town's economy. 

The symbol of the town is the giant "Maneki Neko" , the beckoning cat. 
The Maneki neko measuring 3.8 meters is called Tokonyan and can be reached through one of the walking trails of the Pottery Foothpath
Visitors can walk along the Course A (1.6 kms) and Course B (4kms) past the many pottery workshops, brick kilns and little stores selling pottery which also introduce visitors to the town's history

Clay Pipe Hill  is a little hill , the sides of which are supported by Clay pipes from the Meiji period and Clay Shochu pots from the Showa period.

Baking stands have been embedded in the ground.

The Takita Family Home belonged to the Takita Family which ran a Shipping Dealer business from the Edo period to the Meiji period. It has been restored and designated Tangible Cultural Property.

The  Climbing Kiln Square  is one of the many sights that one passes by on the walking course. 

Many old kilns can be seen around the area. 

On the Course B  visitors pass by the INAX Ceramic Museums and Workshop and the Tokoname Folk Museum.

The Tokoname Post office has this cute ceramic sculpture of the mailman.  

The Tokoname Maneki Neko street is where these cute cat sculptures made by the locals adorn the wall. 

Even the Play area has a pottery theme.

Some cute sculptures that we passed by on our walk. 

Address : Aichi Prefecture 479-0839, Tokoname, Koie-hommachi 5-168-2
                (Tokoname Tourist Information Centre)

Phone: 0569-89-6561

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