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Kokeigama oribe Tajimi japan

This Oribe teabowl is from Kokeigama, a great ceramics studio in a big old pair of buildings at the top of a very steep hill in Tajimi, Japan. I arrived there on bicycle, thrilled to be there in the heart of the Mino ceramics region, eager to see as much as I could in a couple days.

Tajimi was my last stop before taking the train back to Nagoya, and from there to Tokyo, at the conclusion of my short but fantastic first trip to Japan. I am very grateful to a number of people who helped make the trip happen – people I was friends with already, people I became friends with during the lengthy learning & planning process for this trip, and of course, also, I am grateful to a number of total strangers who helped me out once I was there and got lost or was totally baffled about something. In the picture below, a typical ramen restaurant has a machine outside where you place your order – you feed coins into it until your menu choice lights up, then push the button. A little paper tag appears, and you take this in and hand it to the person who seats you. Sometimes, by the time you sit down your food is already appearing, since the kitchen learned about your order first.

I loved these places! But the first time through, which happened to be my first night in Tokyo, just off the plane, the cook had to come outside and show me how the machine worked.

Kibi Ramen Shinagawa

Here’s an article about the ramen shops at Shinagawa Station, which I managed to get four meals at. I have hundreds of pictures & lots of stories but to keep things brief here are just a few links to places I want to remember for next time:

Super Hotel Shinagawa Shimbamba
Friends recommended this to me, and it was my landing point in Tokyo. Friendly, minimal, modern, elegant, with a bath on the first floor and a fantastic traditional breakfast

Ginza Kuroda Touen
Also a recommendation, I headed to this fine ceramics gallery on my first morning. I met Shinji Suzuki, from Gifu Prefecture, whose show was in its last week, up on the second floor

I was lucky to be invited to a dinner at this sushi restaurant in Kyoto. Unforgettable – small, comfortable, exquisite food. At the end of the night the chef served us cherry blossom tea and sang o sole mio

Nukumori no Sato
In Tanba, this was the first of three onsens I visited. Not for staying overnight – just for the spa. I felt so healthy & good during my whole trip! These spa visits had a lot to do with that. My other two onsen visits were in Tajimi: Tenko no Yu and Toki Yorimichi

Harada Farm
I stayed here while visiting potters in Tanba. The generous owner, Harada Kenichi, whose great-grandfather built the main buildings, lent me his bicycle for a morning ride past the small vegetable (rice and black beans) farms and noborigama kilns, & also gave me a ride back to the train station

Tokiwa Ryokan
of all the places I stayed at in Japan this ryokan was the most traditional, with beautiful wood paneling, tatami rooms, great meals, and a peaceful quiet

Tajimi Guest House
My last two nights in Japan were spent here & it is perhaps the first place I would try to return to on another Japan visit. A warm welcome and a ride from the train station, a beautiful quiet garden, a bicycle rental…in Tajimi, the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art has a brilliant collection & I spent hours here

…the group of photos above covers about the first half of the trip. Below: Kyoto, Tanba, Bizen, Tajimi. You see that after a while I stopped taking photos of pottery – partly because I visited either peoples’ studios, or museums where photography was prohibited which I kind of liked – allows you to concentrate. Leaving the cities I was impressed by the wild beauty of the landscape…still working on uploading those photos…