My husband Taro and I were recently fortunate enough to visit my friend Hiiro Takauchi's home town of Mashiko, Japan. Hiiro is a ceramics and sculpture artist who's work has a very illustrative quality to it. I love the things she makes. Visiting Mashiko with her guidance was an unbelievably beautiful and inspiring experience.
We got to stay in her family home up on a hill surrounded by rice fields and forest. Hiiro's mom and dad are both artists as well. Her mom makes jewelry and her dad is a ceramicist. He's shown at the Smithsonian and stuff... no biggie. Just kidding HUGE biggie. I was awestruck by the beauty of his ceramics and how we were all just eating and drinking out of them. It was art meets function at its best as we sipped sake out of his one of a kind cups. The shino glaze on them seemed to blush with subtle pinks. It feel so lucky getting to see and work in Hiiro's dad's studio.
A five minute walk down the road from the Takauchi home is their wood fire kiln and showroom. Bundles of wood, tied and ready for kindling the kiln, remain unused. The kiln collapsed during the huge earthquake caused by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. I found a metal sign Hiiro had made and asked her what the kanji said. She explained that her father had named this kiln "Hyaku Dou Kama" meaning Hundred Children Kiln. This is because the idea of the sound made from a hundred children's voices made him feel happiness. Maybe he heard the voices of his hundreds of ceramic babies in the roaring of the kiln's flames. I thought it was pretty poetic.
Although it was a bit sad to see it broken down, it was an amazing and rare opportunity to see the interior structure. It helped me begin to understand the workings of the Mashiko style wood firing kilns. Little by little the kilns will get cleaned up and rebuilt. Traditions and craft will keep getting passed down and evolving. I am glad I got to get a glimpse of that and hope to return soon to study the ceramics style of Mashiko and incorporate it into my work. Hope to share more of what I see and learn soon. <3 -mylan
If you are interested in seeing Hiiro's dad Shugo Takaguchi working in his studio and firing his HyakuDouKama before it broke I am attaching a short NHK video. :)