Tobe: Preserving Traditional Japan Through Pottery
December 22, 2016
Tobe is a small town lying on the outskirts of Matsuyama. It is widely famous for its traditional Japanese pottery, also known as Tobeyaki. Tobeyaki features deep blue, intricate patterns on white porcelain pieces and was traditionally famous for tea cups. Today the art still lives on in Tobe where many people work as potters and artists. Thanks to the Pottery Creations Museum, guests can now get hands-on experience in the art. There are many options to choose from, including painting, sculpting, and throwing on a wheel.
During this experience, guests choose which item they would like to paint. The items range from 300 yen to 2000 yen. You are given a brief lesson on painting techniques and tools and then it is up to your creativity. There is plenty of space in their painting area and no need for a reservation.
Both sculpting experiences are similar except that one is on a wheel while the other is not. These experiences costs 1,500 yen per person (one piece per person) and require a reservation. You are given a lesson (in Japanese) on sculpting techniques and different types of pottery. Do not worry if you do not speak Japanese; the lesson is very visual and easy to follow. You get to choose what type of pottery you would like (bowl, cup, or plate) and you begin! The instructor assists you the entire time and helps correct any major mistakes. At the end you get to choose what you would like inscribed in the, the type of base, and if you would like it glossed or not. They do warn that pottery can chip in the shipping process. If a piece breaks in the oven, they will create one that looked like yours and send it to you. You also have the option to come back at a later time and paint your masterpiece once it is finished. The experience takes about 30-45 minutes.
Items are mailed to you after being fired and prepared. It will take about 3-4 weeks to arrive. The museum only ships in Japan but you can use tenso.com if you do not have a Japanese address you can ship to. Be sure to sign up for Tenso before arriving and have your Tenso ID ready. Shipping costs 600 yen per box.
They do have an employee who speaks English, but may not always be available. Email is best for contact in English.
To get to Tobe, take the bus from Matsuyamashi Station at stop 3. Buses numbered 15, 17, 18 stop in Tobe. It is a 45 minute bus ride and costs 620 yen each way. You must pay the fare in exact cash (no use of tickets), but a change machine is available on the bus. From there it is a 15 minute walk. You will see the entrance on your left.
Hours: 9am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm)
Address: 82 Gohonmatsu, Tobe-cho, Iyo-gun, Ehime Prefecture
I am from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States of America. I graduated from the University of Tampa with a BA in Applied Sociology. I am currently living in Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan teaching high school English.