Ken Chin-Purcell

May 19, 2023

Japan day 4: Tokoname

It’s pottery day!

We forwarded our luggage to Kyoto using Takyubin (sp? “Ta-Q-bin”), which was a smart move because the Yamanote line at 8am is packed, like only a Japanese train is packed. From Shinagawa we hopped on a Shinkansen to Nagoya, then a local train south to the humble pottery town of Tokoname.


Tokoname is one of the old pottery towns of Japan, known for their tableware and iron clays. In its heyday it produced a lot of industrial ceramics, like sewer pipes and electrical conduit. Now it seems mostly craft potters dot the town, surrounded by abandoned kilns and flues (stacks).


Tokoname has really leaned into the lucky cat theme, with lucky cats (the sitting cat with one arm raised) dotting the town.


But before that we stumbled on a really great restaurant in an old wood house that served on handmade pots. I loved it, lots to look at, all the dishes were different.

There’s a “pottery walk” through the older section, and both Pam and I wound up buying several pots to take home.

Most houses in Tokoname have glazed tile roofs, most grey, some blue. I would love to sleep under clay.

There’s lots of large pots here and there, and fortunately people keep some guppies in them to eat the mosquito larvae.

The paths are paved and lined with pottery seconds


There was also a nicely preserved house of the main merchant of the area from about 200 years ago.


Kiln gods abounded. These guys were near the towns big noborigama, a multi chambered climbing kiln set into the hillside.


That night we stayed in a hotel made out of shipping containers.


Each of those units has it’s own propane hookup and wheeled trailer underneath. They must be cranking them out at some factory, roll a bunch into a parking lot, and voila, a hotel. It was… the best shipping container I’ve ever slept in.