Kiso Valley 2013

From Tsumago to Magome

Out ’N’ about

From Tsumago to Magome

This is one of the biggest and oldest craft fairs in Japan, attracting around 50,000 visitors every year.

More than 250 craftsmen from all over Japan are presenting their products. We have scheduled some interviews and give you a short overview here. The 31st edition of Crafts Fair Matsumoto, our favourite fair, was held on May 30th and 31st.

In 1987, the small group of craftmen started Crafts Fair Matsumoto which has turned into the noteworthy event as years go by. And now Matsumoto is known as a craft towm.

Agata no Mori Park, the site where the Crafts Fair is held.

About 270 exhibitors were on site. It is said that there were applicants 5 times, or 10 times more.

Among the exhibition there are ceramics, glassworks, woodworks, metalworks,…

There is a sort of trend in products each year and it is not always our tastes. As a matter of fact we found this years, which are not fancy styles but rather eathy ones, excellent!


Matsumoto Crafts Fair 2016

Matsumoto Crafts Fair 2016

Matsumoto Crafts Fair 2016

General

Matsumoto Crafts Fair 2016

This is one of the biggest and oldest craft fairs in Japan, attracting around 50,000 visitors every year.

More than 250 craftsmen from all over Japan are presenting their products. We have scheduled some interviews and give you a short overview here. The 31st edition of Crafts Fair Matsumoto, our favourite fair, was held on May 30th and 31st.

In 1987, the small group of craftmen started Crafts Fair Matsumoto which has turned into the noteworthy event as years go by. And now Matsumoto is known as a craft towm.

Agata no Mori Park, the site where the Crafts Fair is held.

About 270 exhibitors were on site. It is said that there were applicants 5 times, or 10 times more.

Among the exhibition there are ceramics, glassworks, woodworks, metalworks,…

There is a sort of trend in products each year and it is not always our tastes. As a matter of fact we found this years, which are not fancy styles but rather eathy ones, excellent!


Shinichiro Kanouya

»A tableware is a kimono for cookery«

Shinichiro Kanouya

Craft Talk 05: Shinichiro Kanouya

»A tableware is a kimono for cookery«

The simple shapes and a little bit rusty colors, off-white surface with brawn spots from the layer underneath. This ash glaze over slip-decorated style is my favorite among Shinichiro Kanouya’s works.

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Shinpei Mawatari

»I found freedom in creating things with clay«

Shinpei Mawatari

Craft Talk 02: Shinpei Mawatari

»I found freedom in creating things with clay«

Earthy and refined. These two words may be conflicting more or less, but could be the right ones to describe Shinpei Mawatari’s works. I see rustic tranquility and austerity in them.

Our second interviewee from Crafts Fair Matsumoto is a potter, Shinpei Mawatari. Born in Saitama 1976, he studied pottery at Traditional Arts Shcool of Kyoto and trained another two years in Hagi which is one of the renowned Japanese pottery cities. Since 2012, he produces his works in Akita, where he turned a cowshed into his atelier, and uses the clay from the site.

Here is the interview:

What do you see from the window now?

Shinpei Mawatari: Three Japanese Maple trees, green, yellow, and red. Two of them have been turned their colors into yellow and red since spring, somehow. I also see the future with my family and my anticipation for my kids.

What did trigger you to become an artisan?

I wanted to create,
I wanted to do something that I can accomplish alone,
I found freedom in creating things with clay.
I just imagined that a potter’s life would fulfill these wishes and went for it, even though I had no knowledge or experience of pottery.

Why do you prefer to work with your hands instead of having the pieces mass-produced?

I wanted to create things with my hands. And I loved it. I do not know why. My gene and the environment I grew up may have influenced me.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Marvelous works of other artists from the past until now.
Nature, such as trees, sky, sea, insects …
Things in bottom of my heart.

Do you have any mottos or slogans?

As my works are for everyday use, they should be durable, easy to use, never bore users, touch users not for a second but for longer, tempt users appreciating every day, and not be characteristic, but radiate its character.

What is the biggest joy as artisan?

I will be joyful, whenever I feel that I am approaching the goal step by step — though the goal is sometimes clear and sometimes not.
I will be also delighted when buyers or users are happy with my works.

What makes your products special?

A difficult question to answer. Honestly to say, I do not know the answer, and I would love you to tell it to me.
I make things that I find useful and I can’t compare mines with others.
I believe, only the people who are objective can answer this question.
I would be happy if my works reflect my intention and draw people’s attention.

Where can people find your work?

At some shops, craft fairs, atelier, and online. All the information is on my website.

What will you be doing after this interview?

Have a look sleeping faces of my wife and kids, then go to sleep.

Visit the website of Shinpei Mawatari:
http://has 52100.blog.fc2.com


See products by Shinpei Mawatari in our shop:


Ryosuke Ando

»I want to execute everything myself«

Ryosuke Ando

Craft Talk 01: Ryosuke Ando

»I want to execute everything myself«

White and silver – what thrills us about Ryosuke Ando’s works are their chic and distinctive forms. We met the artist at  the fabulous Matsumoto Crafts Fair.

As craft lovers, it is always a great pleasure for us to find new artists. At this year’s Matsumoto Craft Fair, which is one of the biggest craft fairs in Japan, we found magnificent artists and works. Moreover, we are privileged to interview them and put them out on our website. In our interview we ask them ten questions.

Ryosuke Ando

The first artist we would like to introduce you is a ceramic artist, Ryosuke Ando. Born in Aichi prefecture he studied design at Aichi University of the Arts and later ceramics. What makes his work unique are their stylish and refined forms. This comes from his background as a designer, I believe.  Here is the interview:

 

Shino: What do you see from the window now?

Ryosuke: Trees in my garden, and the atelier where I spend most of my time.

What did trigger you to become an artisan?

When I sought for one work, in which I would engage myself for the rest of my life, and also would integrate into my everyday life, Pottery was the only answer.

Why do you prefer to work with your hands instead of having the pieces mass-produced?

It’s a sort of my ego. I want to execute everything myself from the beginning to the end.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I always try to develop my ideas from things or events happening in front of me, and I often find my inspirations when I am not working, or when I am away from atelier and can’t work. In a sense, it is stressful not to be able to work, but this strain gives me new visions.

Do you have any mottos or slogans?

Create something interesting, unique, and “what’s this?” sort of positive unusualness.

Which is the greatest challenge of leading a life as an artisan?

I have to do all alone, even though this is what I wanted to do.

What is the biggest joy as artisan?

In our field, it is crystal clear what is excellent, and what is dreadful. In that sense, I would be very pleased when I get satisfying results.

What makes your products special?

I sometimes come across other artist’s work that stirs up my feeling. It’s hard to put into words how great they are. And I feel so envy. I have to say, my works might not have such a charm yet.

Where can people find your work?

At some craft fairs, exhibitions, and shops.

What will you be doing after this interview?

Work, of course.

 

Visit Ryosuke Ando’s website:
www.ryosukeando.weebly.com


Matsumoto Crafts
Fair 2015

General

Matsumoto Crafts Fair 2015

This is one of the biggest and oldest craft fairs in Japan, attracting around 50,000 visitors every year.

More than 250 craftsmen from all over Japan are presenting their products. We have scheduled some interviews and give you a short overview here. The 31st edition of Crafts Fair Matsumoto, our favourite fair, was held on May 30th and 31st.

In 1987, the small group of craftmen started Crafts Fair Matsumoto which has turned into the noteworthy event as years go by. And now Matsumoto is known as a craft towm.

Agata no Mori Park, the site where the Crafts Fair is held.

About 270 exhibitors were on site. It is said that there were applicants 5 times, or 10 times more.

Among the exhibition there are ceramics, glassworks, woodworks, metalworks,…

There is a sort of trend in products each year and it is not always our tastes. As a matter of fact we found this years, which are not fancy styles but rather eathy ones, excellent!


Matsumoto Craft Month 2016

Every May the city of Matsumoto becomes the place to be for lovers of Japanese Crafts. For the whole months many shops put on special crafts displays, many resulting out of the collaboration with local crafts artists. The city itself is very supportive of this and even publishes a “small town walk” map and guide book, which helps tourists find all the many spots where you can see and buy many outstanding crafts products. Unfortunately both are available only in Japanese.

Besides Nakamachi street you should also pay a visit to Rokkumachi Street on the other side of the river. On Friday before the Matsumoto Crafts Fair in one of the shops there was an interesting talk show (Japanese only) with one of the leading Japanese crafts artists, Ryuji Mitani, who talked with two gallery and shop owners about the nowadays situation for crafts artists. Mitani is actually one of the founders of Matsumoto Crafts Fair, the first edition of which took place back in 1984.


A visit to Nakamachi Street

After our journey we had a good nights sleep in Matsumoto, Nagano, where this weekend the 32nd Craft Fair Matsumoto will take place. We already had a look in town and visited some of the many craft shops that are welcoming crafts lovers from all over Japan.

Always worth a visit is Nakamachi Street with many old store and town houses that have been restored to their traditional look. Typical for the buildings are their fire-resistant kura-style (earthen) walls. These were built as a means of fire prevention after in 1888 most of the houses in the street burnt down. In Matsumoto these walls developed a unique white mortar grid pattern on black tiles, called namako-kabe. Today the atmosphere of the street is dominated mainly by small shops selling crafts and small cafés.

One of our favourite shops is Tohenboku (above) where you can find many fine crafts tableware like ceramics, wood and metal products. A few meters across the street isChikiriya (below), which sells mainly folk crafts (mingei). We haven’t bought anything this time, though. We want to save our money for tomorrow’s market.

Before leaving Nakamachi street we suggest you have a coffee at the new Nakamachi Café (below). They serve a unique Nakamachi Blend and an excellent cold-brew ice coffee.


»I try to make tablewares that are like family members«

Craft Talk 04: Momoko Otani

»I try to make tablewares that are like family members«

Pristine and sweet. The botanical paintings on Momoko Otani’s rather plainly formed potteries are Otani’s trademark. The rustical flowers and leaves add so much charm to them.


The paintings on potteries might not be a cup of tea for everyone. But Otani’s paintings are so pleasantly harmonized that you would miss them if there are none of them. There is a kind of synergistic effect between paintings and potteries. Otani was born in Kyoto, 1971. She learned glazing and throwing techniques at Shigaraki Ceramic Research Institute. Since 2008, she’s been working with her husband Tetsuya at Otani Pottery Studio.

 

Shino: What do you see from the window now?

Momoko: The tree in the mountain. They are green at the moment. The Autumn in Shigaraki comes hastily. Then the leaves will turn red, orange and yellow. We enjoy seeing the transition from one season to the next all year around.

What did trigger you to become an artisan?

My parents were also potters. They made tablewares for everyday use.
When I was younger, it was so close to my daily life that I had a little interest in it. Getting older, I realized the brilliance of the work (of my parents) which enable me to handcraft inevitable goods for our life.

Why do you prefer to work with your hands instead of having the pieces mass-produced?

Because I want to produce what I want to with my own rhythm.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I often get ideas when I cook in the kitchen.

Do you have any mottos or slogans?

I try to make tablewares that would play a sort of family members’ or friends’ roles to users and comfort them.

What is the biggest joy as artisan?

As the temperature in the kiln goes up over 1,200 C, it is impossible to see the outcome until the burning process is over. Hence, I would be delighted if I open the kiln to find the tablewares with bland new dimensions as a result of my new experiment. But this is just one of the best pleasures in my work. The work gives me so many joys. I am happy about it.

What makes your products special?

…shall be the Paintings. I paint one by one. Therefore they are all originals.

Where can people find your work?

At galleries and craft fairs both inside and outside Japan. I usually put information of upcoming events on my website.

What will you be doing after this interview?

Work, certainly

 

Visit Otani’s website:
www.ootanis.com


Kei Condo

»I want to produce what I want to with my own rhythm«

Kei Condo

Craft Talk 03: Kei Condo

»I want to produce what I want to with my own rhythm«

The distinctive features of Condo’s works are in thier yellowish caramel colour and straightforward forms. They are indeed stylish. Sleek design might sometimes induce unfeelingness, instead, his tablewares give us heart warming feelings. They embody his real nature, I presume.

Kei Condo, half-Japanese, half-Ethiopian, was born and grown up in one of the well-known Japanese ceramic cities, Kasama in Ibaraki. After spending some time abroad, he set up his own brand in his hometown 2009. We were lucky enough to find his works and to meet him at the Craft Fair Matsumoto this year, where we arranged an interview. In summer, we finally caught up with Condo.

Here is the interview:

 

What do you see from the window now?

A weeping cherry tree and two cats in the garden.

What did trigger you to become an artisan?

I’ve chosen to work with clay because I wanted to live expressing myself.

Why do you prefer to work with your hands instead of having the pieces mass-produced?

Because I want to produce what I want to with my own rhythm.

Where do you find your inspiration?

As I make table wares normally, cookings often give me ideas.

Do you have any mottos or slogans?

Recently I’ve come to think about making tablewares in which we find happiness and peace of mind.

What is the biggest joy as artisan?

I would gloat whenever someone spot my favourite works at my exhibitions.

What makes your products special?

I can’t say it myself. Each should grasp it as they like.

Where can people find your work?

normally sell my works at exhibitions or some kind of events. They’ll be announced on my website.

What will you be doing after this interview?

Mugs are waiting to be handled …

 

Visit Condo’s website:
www.keicondo.com