In every country, there is pottery that match the culture and the local cuisine. Japan is no exception, with different kinds of unique tableware. So when in Japan, why don’t you try making your own Japanese pot at a local pottery school?
At the “Shirokane Ceramic Art School” in the Shirokane area in Tokyo, you can choose from various “experience courses” including some plans where you use a pottery wheel (read the article). They have English speaking staff too, which makes it very easy for foreigners to participate in the classes. This time, my two friends and I tried to make a “hot pot” (o-nabe) cooking pot ourselves.
Because the pot used for hot pot dishes is bigger than the usual dish or mug you’d make in a pottery class, we didn’t use the pottery wheel. Instead, we used our hands and a rolling pin to flatten the clay, like pizza dough.
Once the clay is thin enough, you put it over a hot pot shaped bowl and gently form it into the right shape. Next, you have to make a lid. The lid is one of the most important pieces for a hot pot. As you might know, there are various shapes of hot pot lids. There is the “tajine hot pot” lid, a dome-shaped lid, a flat lid…the shape of the lid will change how the steam builds up in the hot. So actually, the shape of the lid is quite important. But anyway, since it is YOUR hot pot you are making, you should go with the shape you like, rather than worrying too much about the practicability.
Customize your creation!
Once you finished forming the shape of the lid, it’s time to customize it! Since it is your very own self-made pot, it is fun to create a design that you cannot buy at a store. So even if the result isn’t “perfect”, it is still your very own creation and you’ll love it even more. Also, self-made tableware is a great gift for a loved one!
We customized our lids and the handles of the pot. Then, with some help of our teacher, we attached it to the pot. Finally, you may choose the color you want it to be. For the one-day experience course, you can choose from matte off-white or charcoal black. In the case of a “2-day class”, you can paint the pot yourself, allowing you to choose from many more colors. You can even go beyond the single-color and paint a picture etc.
It takes a month to fire pottery, but if you are in a hurry, you can shorten the firing process up to only 3 days (※ an additional fee required). You may pick up the finished work directly at the school or let them ship it to you. Overseas shipping is also possible.
The staff of the small, calm Shirokane Ceramic Art School is very kind and will teach you everything patiently. Therefore, even if you’re a beginner, you don’t need to worry about participating in the class. Also, since there are many 1-day experience courses, unlike other pottery schools, there is no need to become a member. It is a perfect classroom for tourists and short-term visitors. So by all means, try making your own good memories of Japan while you’re here!
Shirokane Ceramic Art School
5-13-4 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo