Visit artist "Ota.Glass.Labo"
About three hours from Nagoya, between mountains in Ayabe area in Kyoto, we visited Ohta Glass labo. When I hear Kyoto, it reminds me of old temples, shrines, and other historic building in Kyoto city, but much like in New York, in Kyoto prefecture, there are a lot more rooms to explore until Japan sea.
Welcoming us with bright smile on her face, we met Ohta-san. Though she was always curious about glass work, she actually started the work after turning 28 when she was working at a regular company. She told us that she found a school specializing glass work where she studies all different kinds of making glass works. After graduating from the school, she found a job in Kobe as a teacher, teaching glass works especailly stone-mold way that she liked. At the same time with her spare time she was making her own works, and in 2016, she decided to work for herself making Ohta glass lab.
So, this time, she showed us how to go about making her glass works, which is mostly stone-mold way. First she has to make glass pieces from sand, which will be used later on, and at the same time she makes clay plates. The clay plates are used to put designs into glass plates. Then she melted the glass again to pour down to the clay plates and burn them in kiln. The glass is easy to break with this technique, so she has to be extremely careful when increasing the temperature and cooling down as well, which takes about 3 whole day after starting up the kiln. Moreover, it shocks me that the clay plates that she uses to put glass is different every time, meaning she makes the clay base every single glass plate that she makes. It is very detailed and time consuming work, but she does that all the time. So, in fact, her plates are never be the same and each has its own charm.
As she was showing us her works, she offered us Tamba kuromame. It is special kind of edamame which is famous in the area. It was soooo good and by far the best edamame I ate in my life. Later, I looked up on google and found that it is called 幻の枝豆 because its season lasts only for two weeks. When you have a time to visit Ayabe or Tamba area of Kyoto in Autumn, you better check this edamame, it will surely blow your mind.
Visit artist "Torimoto Glass Studio"
Just around 30 minutes North of
either Kyoto and Kobe, there you
can see rice field surrounded by
cute looking small mountains of
Tamba. Between those mountains,
there is Torimoto-san’s house/
workshop in a small village. The
house used to be owned by Torimoto
san’s master Mr. Arakawa, and is
very cozy and harmonious with
glassworks thats been melted into
this great house. In Particular,
the main door of the house is
stunning made of hundreds of
Torimoto-san had worked as apprentice
under Mr. Arakawa for 14 years, and
in fact he met his wife there, who also
worked under Mr. Arakawa for 8 years.
So, his wife is also professional in making
glassworks, and I realized that Torimoto
Glass Studio runs literally by two amazing
people. Now that I know this, it makes
sense to see all the amazing posts on
their instagram. They are posted by Ms.Torimoto!!
Working as an apprentice for 14 years,
I imagine there must have been some
hardships and some great learning
experiences, he told us in our conversation
“Through my apprenticeship, I learned
power to live.” Honestly, I don’t know
what he meant exactly, but at the same
time it makes me think deeply. This was
the most memorable moment from the visit.
Next to the living space of the house, there
we went to his workshop, where two big
kilns were burning furiously. He told us that
He made those kilns by himself and it took
around 4 months to complete. I wonder
what kind of people they makers are…I often
see them make their own kiln. They must be
something different from us ordinary people.
Temperature inside kiln is around 1300 degree
Celsius, seems to melt almost anything in
a matter of second. He picked up glass and start
demonstrating how to blow and make his glass piece.
He told us that he picks, chooses, mixes his own
ingredients that can be best suited for its purpose.
In order to get right results, he needs to experiment
number of times, and this practice leads to his
recent heat resistant glasses.
Picking up melting glass and blowing in,
I can feel the crisp atmosphere and the
seriousness of making glass piece. He looks
straight into the glass and blows at the perfect
timing. He says”consuming time does not
necessarily mean they produce a good piece.
I think blowing fast and smoothly makes
more beautiful shape, but to do that you
need to have real skill.” I could tell he is
confident of his work and that confident
comes from extreme effort and aspiration.
Shamefully speaking, before visiting Torimoto
Glass Studio, I didn’t have much knowledge
about glass works, so it was nice knowing
knowledge behind the glass works. I thank
Mr. Torimoto and Ms.Torimoto to welcome us
warmly. We were also happy to see their baby.
Melting Hot Summer
I feel like this year has been the hottest summer
I have ever experienced in Nagoya area,
and at the same time was the weirdest.
After the rain season, it gets to 38-40 degrees
almost everyday, which is really unusual in Japan, and
the humidity makes it even worse...
We are melting....
This summer is either super hot or typhoon.
As I said above, it has been really really hot, but
when it's not, typhoon is on our way and leaves
scars on our soil.
Some people say global warming is not real,
but we feel that in our everyday life.
We need to do something about it.
Not only the strange weather makes me want to
do something about the global warming, but the
beauty of nature, stunning nature that
we have on earth, tells me to
keep it for our children.
What I can do as individual is small, but
I just have to do what I have to do to make
Hyouge Mono Manga comic
This is one rare piece of Manga comics that is about pottery and history of Sengoku Jidai.
The main character is Oribe Furuta.
If you know Japanese pottery well, the name must ring the bell.
And yes!! He is the one who made Oribe pottery, deep green glaze often with hand written picture.
He was also a Samurai, worked for Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Ieyasu Tokugawa.
In this story, he is described as pottery freak in funny way, who is serving for many generals,
and finally becomes the master of tea ceremony.
In Sengoku period, the tea ceremony was the place where secret talk takes place.
Tea room was small and distanced from other rooms that no one can overhear the conversation.
Thats been said, the tea master could hold important secrets of the time and possibly control
the politics. Sengoku period is so dramatic and this manga shows us how the politics work
along with tea ceremony.
Actually I have never read Manga comics before, but almost every pottery maker reads Hyouge Mono
and recommend me, so I finally started to read. It's really funny, and I can get the knowledge of the
pottery and Oribe, it is great!
In Monoina, Oribe glaze is used in Hanzawa-san and Junri-san works.