Tour No.06 "Satsuma Yaki in Ako"
Introduction of tour
Date : 2006.5.4
Location : Ako Gun
It was serendipitous association. I visited a department store in Osaka to talk to bamboo artisan Takae san, who was selling his items there. Many artisans were selling their items, but just near the Takae san's booth, my eyes were caught by exceptionally gorgeous china wares.
They were very similar to antique Satsuma Yaki, which we sometimes come across at antique market. In the early Meiji period(1868-1912), Japan exhibited artifacts at international exhibitions to try to export Japanese products. Especially Satsumayaki became popular at Paris Exhibition (1867), and huge demand were born.
Many Satsuma Yaki were exported to Europe countries at that time and entertained lots of people with its gorgeous and incredibly fine details.
Later Satsuma Yaki came home, and we Japanese also can enjoy its beauty now. ( Approx a year ago, home coming artifacts exhibition was held - they were marvelous items!)
However, we believed Satsuma Yaki was the old story, and we couldn't image there still existed Satsuma Yaki potter in Japan.

Snapshot of tour

When I saw the items at department store, I thought they had to be Kyo-Yaki - although they were too gorgeous compared to usual Kyo-Yaki.
I asked a lady near the china wares, and came to know their item's origin was Satsuma Yaki! Satsuma Yaki has survived in Ako, Hoygo prefecture!
She is the Machiko Shima, and china wares were made by her and her husband Yuzan Shima. The original product center of Satsuma Yaki was Satsuma ( southern part of Kyushu), as I knew. However, when they became to be exported, other kilns in other districts started to make Satsumayaki. They were exported from Kobe harbor ( in Hyogo prefecture), and later also in Kobe, Satsuma Yaki became to be made. Her husband Yuzan Shima worked for a Satsuma Yaki workshop in Kobe, and later he made his own kiln at Ako(in Hyogo prefecture). Recently Yuzan san makes other style china like Oribe Yaki , and Machiko's painting looks very elegant compared to antique Satsuma, but their essence of art work is Satsuma Yaki without any doubt.
I visited their workshop on 4th May. Ako is not so far from our office, but it took nearly three hours from our office, because of traffic jam of Golden Week holidays.
At a glance, their work shop looked an ordinary Japanese house, and Shima san was waiting me on his usual work seat in the second floor of his house ---


What a gorgeous pottery it is! I thought it might be Kyoyaki, but its technique and design are very similar to Satsuma Yaki.
Incredibly fine and gorgeous painting work!
Machiko san is Shima san's wife, and when I asked her to offer their items on our site, she gave us OK.
In his work place, I came to know him first. He looked difficult but ---
---he is very friendly person as this photos.
'I have never done home work at school', he said and laughed!
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