Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome to Seto

Seto City 瀬戸市 is renowned in Japan for the production of ceramics (pottery and porcelain). In fact, ceramics are also called 'Setomono' 瀬戸物 in Japanese, named after the town. On 20 March, we took a day trip to the town, in a bid to learn more about ceramics, and hopefully, to buy some pretty and cheap stuff.

Despite occupying a small area of only over 100 sq km, Seto proved to be a very charming town, with a rich heritage of ceramics that is celebrated in every possible shape and form.

As we strolled through the streets, we saw the culture of ceramics everywhere. Porcelain tiles decorated the walls of many houses and public facilities including walkways and bridges, while ceramic dolls were embedded in the walls of public carparks. Public benches were made out of ceramics, a rare sight in Japan. At Kamagaki-no-komichi, a trail located at the foot of the mountains, pottery in the form of plates, bowls and cups are tastefully embedded in the stone walls. We had lunch at a dirty, rugged eatery and guess what? Even the food there was served in elegant Setomono.

An old curator we met in a museum taught us how to differentiate pottery from porcelain, and had us promise him that we would spread this know-how to other people. His pride in Seto as the capital for Setomono was indisputable. And indeed, the sights we saw told us the kind of pride the people of Seto have in ceramics, which is already well infused in their everyday lives.

Turns out that prices of Setomono are not exactly cheap but we eventually found a set of 3 plates that we bought as a souvenir and which matched our budget.

Walls extensively but artfully decorated with pottery and porcelain pieces

Random posed shots

Old ceramic toilets

left: Ceramic bench
right: Ceramic skateboard!
bottom: An old house owned by a first generation ceramics master. The house is over 120 years old and has now been converted into a museum.

Our purchase!