Experience pottery making in Seto, the land of porcelain
A 50 minute ride on a train from Nagoya station, and you will reach the town of porcelain, Seto. It is the country's leading production area of ceramic and porcelain with a long history, that in Japan people generally call pottery as "Seto-mono". Even today, there are many studios which keep on creating various art pieces. Have a relaxing moment in this historical town and experience pottery making to feel the alluring art of Japanese ceramic works.
Pottery workshop - work with potter's wheel
There are many studios where you can experience making the Seto-yaki pottery. Why not take the opportunity to get to know what the Japanese "monozukuri" manufacturing is like? Other than porcelain making, there are also ceramic decoration and glasswork studios.
* Pictures below show the studio of "Togei Kyoshitsu Soutou". Pottery making: from 1,000 yen, painting: from 500 yen, with an additional shipping cost.
*It takes approximately two weeks until your workpiece will be shipped.
Another popular pottery studio is 'Ka Sen'. Here, instruction is available in English. Though, because it's popular among Japanese people also, booking should be made in advance.
Let's start the trip from Setogura to get to know about the city's history. The 2nd and 3rd floors are museum of Seto-yaki pottery. The townscape between years 1950 and 1970 is replicated, including the pottery studios, charcoal kiln, the antique-style Seto-den railway, and more. It is like observing a film shooting set. Imagine that you have slipped back in the old times so that you will get to know about the history and manufacturing method of the Seto-yaki porcelain which has lasted for over 1300 years.
Admission fee: 520 yen
On the 1st floor, there is a shop that offers a wide variety of products. Since goods are sold directly by the pottery manufacturers, you can buy them for a reasonable price. Restaurant "Kamaba Shokusabo Kura-sho" is designed with a motif of the climbing kiln. A set meal that comes with a gift plate is one of their popular menu.
Cats and cats and cats! Maneki-neko Museum
It is the biggest Maneki-neko (fortune cats) museum in Japan which exhibits over 1,000 pieces of Maneki-neko figures (a beckoning cat figurine which is believed to bring good luck). The museum introduces the characteristics and history of the Maneki-neko in various regions. Beside the shop on the 1st floor, you will find a souvenir shop "Omodaka-ya" where cute cat related goods, products that brings good luck, and other Japanese style small objects can be purchased.
Admission fee: 300 yen
A workshop to decorate the Maneki-neko ceramic ware is available. Draw anything you like on the Maneki-neko figure, cat shaped teapot, plate, or an accessory.
Workshop: From 300 yen plus delivery cost (Ask your tour guide for and overseas shipment request.)
It takes around one month until your workpiece will be shipped.
Walk along the old stylish town of Seto
In Seto, you can still find a lot of old wooden houses and hedges that are formed by piling up the pottery tools. Expose yourself to the porcelain making history and culture by simply walking around the city. The picture is a shot of Ouji, the Ginza-dori Shopping Street which is the busiest area in town. Enjoy the elegant style gallery, café and restaurants along the avenue.
A traditional tea shop along the Ginza-dori Shopping Street. The rich aroma of green tea leaves that are roasted at the entrance seduce people who pass by. The "Mactha soft ice cream" which uses the Matcha green tea leaves produced in Nishio, Aichi prefecture is a popular dessert to people of all ages.
Seto Novelty Club
It exhibits various Seto Novelties (ceramic objects and ornaments) which have helped the town to prosper. Many of them have been exported under other brand names. Although the name of Seto is not well-known worldwide in the frontstage, it is worthwhile observing the exquisite technique and skills that the Seto-mono has.
Maruichi Kokubu Shoten
A number of Seto-mono stores stand along the Setogawa river which run across the city center. Other than tea sets, you will find various tools and utensils for daily use. Picture was taken in Maruichi Kokubu Shoten, where plenty of fancy dishes are available.
Traditional Japanese confectionery shop, Kawamuraya Gaei
Check the "Kawamuraya Gaei", a traditional Japanese confectionery store along the river. The "Setogawa Manju" is their most selling product. Among tourists, the manju called "Tama" is also popular which has a shape of a cat paw.
Special dishes that you should not miss in Seto are the Unagi eel and Yakisoba noodles. Eel was highly appreciated as nutritional support for pottery makers. Tashiro is one of the country's leading Unagi restaurants with outstanding reputation. It is also interesting to observe how a live eel is cut and grilled. Tashiro has limited number of seats and is a very famous shop, so be prepared to wait for more than an hour even on a weekday. (You will have to wait more on weekends.)
Geijutsuka Yoko-cho, Aichi Porcelain Museum
The Aichi Porcelain Museum is a recommended place to visit if you are interested in potteries. All kinds of valuable porcelain used in imperial courts in Europe are displayed. Probably this is the only place in the world where you can encounter so much variety of porcelain. There is also an atelier run by young designers in the Geijutsuka Yokocho, which is located beside the museum.
Admission fee: 500 yen
Traditional old-style Sento (public bath), Nihon Kousen
If you have enough time, why not try the Sento public bath, a traditional Japanese custom? Nihon Kousen still remains as the way it used to be when it opened in 1931. The mosaic tile mural inside the bath is wonderful.
Bathing fee: 400 yen (Soap and shampoo are sold separately. Fee includes free rental towel.)
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