Yes, Debra and I have arrived in Shigaraki! We have been here for six days after a thrilling week in Tokyo. We stayed in an area I’ve not been to in Tokyo before – Hiroo – between Shibuya and Roppongi – a combination of very small hole in the wall restaurants and shops and hotels, skyscrapers, etc…they use every inch of space. It was cold while there – big wet flakes of snow when we went to the Tokyo National Museum that became a bit magical as we walked along the famed Ueno Park path and saw one lone cherry tree in bloom covered in snow with the pink petals peeking out! We momentarily forgot how cold we were!
Locals are as polite and friendly as ever and I’m getting my feet wet trying to speak Japanese and after studying so hard, but in situ, it is more challenging. I blame it on the jet lag but I think I lost my brain for a bit! But, I will keep studying and practicing and hopefully, it will become easier. Google translate is great! Deb and I have had a good start to our trip – so many things familiar yet so foreign. A few different social codes – no talking (reading is fine) on cell phones on public transportation or in restaurants, talking softly (if at all) in galleries, etc. I guess the large population makes this necessary and I don’t mind and appreciate it for the most part.
Shigaraki is a small pottery town that has the ‘Tanuki” figure as mascot – see the photo! We arrived last Wednesday in this lovely rural town where few people (except at the residency) speak any English. There are other artists with us, mainly from Australia but one from Hong Kong who now lives in England; a Swedish couple who just finished a 3 month residency at Jingdezen, China; and a Swiss – that makes 9 guest artists including Debra and me. There are also 4 (I think) invited Japanese artists who are doing very large scale work – their kilns and facilities are fantastic, as are their technicians and we have received a warm welcome by all.
My room is very similar to my Hungarian residency – single bed, but with the addition of a fridge and toaster oven to get me through the night as well as a private bathroom with a lovely little ofuru tub which is my private onsen at the end of the day.
I am using a local white stoneware clay and will try my hand at throwing with their black stoneware. It is very plastic and responsive and while I was working in the studio today, my white porcelain slip arrived from Tajimi, so I will begin casting work with that tomorrow! Enjoy the few photos I have attached and hope to say less and send more pics, even though as always, I have lots to say but I will try to resist!