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: