Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I would say what I was enthusiastic about in 2014 is pottery.

At first, all plates and cups I had were from 100 yen shops or DIY chain stores. That was because I could not afford to purchase fine ceramics about 10 years ago and I was satisfied with cheap dishes. Several years after I settled in current apartment and current job, I suddenly realized that I could now afford to collect fine ceramics. It was just before Golden Week in May.

I started to go pottery shops and flea markets. I soaked in pottery world until I replaced almost all of my dishes with new ones. At the same time, I still kept buying some plates at 100 yen shops.

 I proudly show you some of my collections :-).

They are some of my favorite potteries, Onta ware and Koishihara ware in Kyushu district. I love this carved pattern by knife called "tobi-kanna". One pottery shop owner told me that Onta and Koishihara craftpersons made thin and delicate work because they were generally highly skilled. Price range is also affordable among famous folk crafts. Price of a flat plate with 15 cm across is about 1500-2000 yen.

I know 1500 yen is extremely more expensive than the same size of plate in 100 yen shop. It took several months to get used to its cultural and price gap!

I also love "shinogi" pattern that makes stripe by bold grooves.

At one time, I loved whites.

At another time, I liked blues.

I sometimes enjoyed arranging many small dishes.

Or one big plate.

Or unique shaped plate.

It was so fun to make my own collection, but I had to stop buying them when almost all of my dishes were changed to new ones. I make a note of my favorite pottery shops as a memento.



1-5-3 Hokancho, Kita-Ku, Okayama-City, Okayama, Japan
TEL 086-255-0102
Close: 1st Tue. of the month

It might be good start to check 1950-1980’s plates and cups used by typical Japanese families. The antique shop is located along the Hokancho Shopping Mall by JR Okayama Station. Ceramics in the shop are mainly mass products made during high economic growth period of 1950-1970’s. They deal in some folk crafts, too.


2-3-1 Ishizekicho, Kita-Ku, Okayama-City, Okayama, Japan
TEL 086-201-8884

This is a gallery specializes in contemporary pottery arts. Quality and uniqueness of their selection are just fabulous. You may feel like being in a small art museum. Its premises are renovated from 130-year-old shop and house. You have to check its opening schedule because they open only during the term of planned exhibitions. You can see their exhibition information at "news" section of their website.


1-1-13 Hirai, Naka-Ku, Okayama-City, Okayama, Japan
TEL 086-238-8316
Close: Tue.

It takes about 50-60 min. by bicycle from JR Okayama Station and 20-30 min. by car. I selected this shop despite its inconvenient access because its amount of folk potteries is one of the largest in Okayama area. Shop owner buys potteries from Kyushu, Okinawa, Shimane and other famous folk pottery manufacturing area and craftpersons.


*Kurashiki Museum of Folk Art (Kurashiki Mingei Kan)

1-4-11 Chuo,Kurashiki-City, Okayama,Japan
9:00-17:00(Mar.-Nov.), 9:00-16:15(Dec.-Feb.)

It is located in the center of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (Kurashiki Bikan Chiku).You can see and buy current fine folk potteries at the museum shop. Entry of museum shop is free of charge.

*Toru Mingei Shop (Toru Mingei Ten)

2-25-48 Achi Kurashiki-City, Okayama, Japan
TEL 086-424-8722
Close: Tue. and 2nd and 4th Mon of the month.

You can find the shop in a shopping mall by Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. Shop owner selects sophisticated folk potteries from all over Japan. They especially deal in many crafts from Okinawa and glazed white ceramics called "hakuji".


2-6-26 Achi, Kurashiki-City, Okayama, Japan
TEL 086-425-5511
Open: 7 days a week

There is the shop under shopping mall’s arcade between JR Kurashiki Station and Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. They deal in affordable daily ceramics including popular potteries such as Arita ware and Mino ware.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


One of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, Okayama Korakuen is holding Special late-night garden opening,Fantasy Garden (Genso-Teien) until Aug. 31.

This garden is so easy to go from JR Okayama Station. About 10 min. or so by street car.

I go there with my family every summer night and enjoy night-excursion. Also there are many other families backing home town during Obon holidays.  The air feels cooler than other downtown area because good cool wind blows in the wide garden at night.

I enjoyed music show there. Okayama castle in limelight is just hidden behind a tree in this picture.


This event usually ends in mid-August. However, it is held longer this year. Number of light is a little fewer than last year, but it is good to be able to enjoy night walking until the end of August. 

Bad news is that fee went up into 400 yen because of the prefectural financial problem.

Anyway, enjoy your summer holiday!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Torii-kuguru had the first anniversary festival on July 26 and 27. It was very nice days and many visitors enjoyed food, music and workshops.

I am so thankful that this guesthouse is always open to neighbors. In this guesthouse, I was able to meet international tourists, young cyclists, hitchhikers, musicians, laid-back Snufkins and other neighbors who want to share the excitement of other people's journey. This place reminds me that we are always tourist in our life, which helps me to get out of my routine.

At the same time, I also love calm daily life and I like Torii-kuguru because this hostel also loves calm atmosphere. I like the great balance of excitement and calm there so much.

I would like to upload some videos instead of words. The first one is booth preparing. Two playing guys are from Ushio Chocolate in Onomichi. The instrument is nose flute. They are great entertainers!
Link: http://youtu.be/ku5kS9e0P7o

This is a Torii-kuguru (going through shrine gate) experience video. This is a coming-in shot. You can also see the owner, Akio.
Link: http://youtu.be/-TI4TDD3olM

This is a going-out shot. You can see another owner, Kenji.

You may think why there is no photo of many visitors. Sorry! I could not take it because I was mostly helping the event as a volunteer :-) . 

I look forward to seeing you here, touring folks!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


July 20th is Marine Day, one of our national holiday. Summer holiday starts around this day in elementary school in Okayama.

Fortunately, weather news said that rainy season got finished today! Yay!

Unfortunately, we just got lightning storm this afternoon. :-(

Anyways, I would like to introduce great sightseeing spot near beautiful Setouchi Sea.

Setouchi Sea is very calm sea located between mainland and Shikoku island. Some people say that this area is like Aegean Sea area. I don't know if it is real because I never been to Aegean Sea :-P.

First of all, I would like to show my favorite site, Mt. Ojigadake. Those rocks are granite. Mainly on Sunday, you can see flying people there because this place is also a flight point of paraglider. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation to Mt. Ojigadake. So, I took a movie for you on the top of the Ojigadake.

You can go to Shibukawa beach, near Ojigadake, from JR Okayama station by a bus bound for Setouchi Marine Hotel. It takes about 70 minutes.

   * * *

Next one is Inujima island. Inujima means dog's island, but you cannot see dogs there. Dog's spirit is enshrined as God there. This island was famous as high quality granite rocks for architecture.

Recently, it is well known for Inujima Seirensho Art Museum built based on old big copper factory site. This museum is designated as Heritage of Industrial Modernization in 2007 by Japanese government.

If you really want to see a dog there, I know one dog you can meet with. This is a big statue of dog made by artist Ryuzo Kawano in 2013. On its surface, he pasted about 20,000 tiles made by people all over Japan, including me :-) !

For more info about this big dog, see this site.

You can take a train from JR Okayama to JR Saidaiji. And then you change to a bus bound for Hoden Port. It takes about 10 minutes by ship from Hoden Port to Inujima.

For more information about Inujima, you can see this site. 

   * * *

Last place is Shodoshima Island. Shodoshima is big island where 15,000 people live. I love old location site of movie ”Twenty-four eyes”. You can see Setouchi Sea from windows of old class room! You can also enjoy movie sets of old village. 

 I like wide scenery seen from small islands.

You can check the access to Shodoshima on this site.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


It's getting hot! It's a season for summer festivals!

In summer, you can see people in Yukata, casual style of Kimono, at festivals. You can see them the most in firework festivals. They are also seen in Saturday Night Festivals held by old shopping malls mainly every Saturday in July. On a Saturday evening, Chen-san, Torii-kuguru's living-in staff member, and I wore Yukata together and took a walk around Saturday Night Fesutival and historical area in Kurashiki.

It is good to wear Yukata in the evening because you don't become sweaty and don't have to loosen Yukata. Actually, you cannot loosen it because its beauty is in tighten up shape. Since you use so many strings and belts to keep Yukata's shape, you cannot even move as usual.

After went out in our Yukata for about 4 hours, we came back to Torii-kuguru. When we saw its Torii gate, Chen san said "O.K., we came back alive. I learned how Japanese women had hard life in Kimono!", and we laughed a lot. Yes, wearing Kimono is so tiring, but many people looked at us and sometimes said "Look at the Yukata!", "It's so beautiful! ", and took a picture of us. To look beautiful, you have to endure a little, maybe a lot. We learned the essence of Japanese beauty.

I actually did not like to wear Kimonos mainly because of its difficulties in wearing and caring them. But, I suddenly decided to wear it this season. Some of reasons are that I became to realize the beauty of traditional Japanese clothes and that it might be the last timing to learn how to wear them. My mom, who can teach me it, is already in her 70's.

When I was in my 20's, my mom asked my aunt to make Yukata for me because I was too big to buy ready-made size of Yukata. So, I got my handmade Yukata, but I could not find suitable Geta, Japanese wooden sandal. Traditional things were all small for me at that time. That was why I gave up easily and never tried my Yukata.

20 years later, things changed and people can see and learn how to wear and care Yukata on the Web. You can also get big size of Yukata and other stuff because Yukata became popular again among young adults and foreign tourists.

You cannot use clothes iron and washing machine to care Yukata. You spray water on it and dry it in the air. And then you fold it in square shape and press it under heavy stuff. Now I enjoy doing it. It is very thankful that I have the luxury to care Yukata in such old way. Also, I am so glad that I finally understood what my mom and my aunt tried to carry on.

Oh, I almost forgot it. Torii-kuguru also has small festival on 10:00 - 18:00 July 26(sat) and 27(sun). There are food, alcohols, music shows, workshops and talk shows.


You can also enjoy Saturday Night Festival along its shopping mall, Hokancho on 19th and 26th!

Enjoy your summer, hopefully in Yukata!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


July 6th is the first anniversary day of Torii-kuguru.

It is so fun to support a guesthouse as neighbor. I have actually dreamed to have a house with guest rooms and invite my friends. So when I found this place, I thought "O.K, I don't have to have my own guestrooms anymore because I have great ones here!"

I was also so glad to find my companies, Kenji and Akio, in self-employed field. I wanted to share the excitement and challenging experience of business with others, but there were not so many people who can share the experiences until Torii-kuguru opened. I was also able to meet young people who have various type of small business since there are amall shops around Torii-kuguru and many business-related friends come by Torii-kuguru.

I think Kenji and Akio had gotten tough experiences because their business is much bigger than mine. I hope they can enjoy more fun part of their business this coming year.

I made my Kirie, paper-cutting art, for this anniversary. I wanted to express airy atmosphere of the guesthouse.

For your information, actual torii, shrine gate is not so big :-P.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I became one-day instructor for Kirie class today. Yes, I do Kirie! Ms. Chen who is living-in staff of Torii-kuguru also joined us and enjoyed the class.

Kirie is paper cutting art. It is not traditional Japanese art, but the essence of Kirie art is the same with traditional Japanese art. Basically you cut black paper by a craft cutter and put it on white paperboard. There are many other styles such as using color papers and painting on white board after/before pasting black pieces.

It is important to make a balance between black and white in the process of designing. While you think about black and white, light and shadow and brightness and sadness, you will realize the beauty of emptiness, shadow and sadness that we often ignore or negate. I also try to put narrativity in the picture. Beautiful pattern is just beautiful, but stories cultivate deeper emotions.

I started Kirie by myself about 15 years ago. Since I was so frustrated by my busy work at that time, Kirie was my best way to release my stress in short time. Kirie work is easy to start, stop, and care anytime because I do not use any water, clay or other wet materials.

I like simple things. I would to like to make Torii-kuguru's Kirie work sometime soon.