Matsumoto Crafts
Fair 2015


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.

Kiso Valley 2013

My first rice bowl

Kiso Valley 2013

Long before I became fascinated by Japanese Art Crafts I bought this bowl. I found it at the autumn crafts fair in Agato no Mori Park in Matsumoto, Nagano, while visiting my parents in law back in 2002. Shino had told me about the much bigger Crafts Fair, that takes place every year in May. But since I had no interest, I was not so much impressed.

This round bowl, however, caught my attention. Never before had I seen a piece of pottery of such wonderful roughness. It is made of gray clay with tiny white granite balls and finished with a grayish-white layer glazing and black decoration. Still today I feel like this is the most beautiful piece of kitchen ware in our house. I love its irregular sharpe, the gray glaze with blurred darker spots and the uneven white glaze on top, as well as the rough structure, which you can feel when you hold the bowl. The bowl is full of imperfection. But that is exactly what makes it perfect for me.

Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the potter who sold this bowl. But I remember that he had a a lot of similar things on sale, and now I wish I had bought some more or at least kept the name card of the potter. (If by any chance you know who is the man who made this bowl, please let me know! I would be too happy to feature him on Pan to Kome – and maybe buy some more of his beautiful works.)

The inside is decorated with two black brush strokes which just cross each other.
The base is unglazed and of an rare roughness.
The final white glazing has been applied very unevenly and formed some nice drops.
Here you can see the grayish-back decoration with the transparent white glaze on top. The clay is enriched with tiny white granite balls, which add to the rough structure.