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Activities in Yunogo: Pottery at Totogama

02,Sep 2015 Activities in Yunogo

Totogama is another shop run by artisans who offer their atelier to guests who want a chance to try out the craft. At Totogama, for a fee and a fraction of your day, you can give pottery a go under the amiable guidance of an experienced potter. This activity is suitable for people of all ages, and is also family-friendly and enjoyable.


The session begins with deciding what you would like to craft. The options are cups, bowls, or plates, and you can choose to finish them in either a regular style, with a glaze coating of colour (everything on the round plate in the back), or in Bizen-style (the cup and bowl in the foreground), with colour imparted by wrapping straw over the molded clay and firing it, straw and all.


Once you have made your choice, it’s time to get to work! First, some clay is retrieved and the air is squeezed out of it through rolling and reshaping several times. Removing the air ensures that the clay will be easier to work with and bake evenly in the end.


The clay is then put on a cloth, which is put on a disc used for the molding process. The disc is manually turned throughout the whole molding process, to ensure that it is shaped as evenly as possible.


Next comes the fun part: shaping your clay into your desired object! Pictured here is a plate in progress. Using the palm of your dominant hand, flatten the clay by slapping down repeatedly on the same spot, all the while gripping the disc and cloth with your other hand whilst turning. When the clay is of a good size, it’s time to define the base of the plate by slapping the same spot in the middle of the disc, again whilst turning the disc with the other hand whilst gripping both the disc and cloth to ensure that a different spot of the clay is hit, and that the clay does not fall off. Once the base of the plate has been formed, the edge of the plate is curved up to form a lip by placing your palm on the base, and then lifting up the cloth edge parallel to your palm to press the clay wedged between your palm and the cloth upwards. Again, this is done systematically by rotating the disc.


Finally, when the object is fit for firing, it’s time to decorate it! Totogama has a variety of stamps, ranging from hearts to Totoro to cats and dogs, or if you like you can draw your own design with a toothpick. You can stamp on the clay to your heart’s desire, and if you change your mind about a design, you can always rub it out and reshape the clay. After you have finished personalising your object, you can pick the colour you want to apply to your plate. Finally, you will be asked for a simple signature to be inscribed into the base of the object, which can be anything from your initials, to the date, to a picture. And with that, you’re done!


The pottery workshop takes from about 30 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on what you choose to make. Larger plates are the easiest, whereas smaller objects like cups and bowls require more care with shaping and forming that translates into needing more time to ensure that they are made properly. It takes about two months for the finished product to be ready for collection, but no need to worry – Totogama will ship worldwide, provided you provide an address and the shipping fees.


Totogama is located in Yunogo, about 10 minutes by foot from Kifu no Sato. Even if you would not like to participate in the pottery experience, you are very welcome to visit the shop and browse its wares. The extremely skilled craftsmen sell a range of items, from teacups to chopstick stands to tableware, and all of them are handcrafted and baked in-house. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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