A Japanese Pottery Master Tells You How You Should Live

Do you have a favorite cup, saucer, or dish? Do you treat it with respect?

Shoichi Hasegawa, the owner of “Kotouen” in Kyoto told us how important it is to have a favorite pottery piece and live with it.

“Kotouen” is a Japanese pottery atelier in Arashiyama, 20 minutes’ train trip from central Kyoto. Opened in 1964 by his father, “Kotouen” is a space where Shoichi creates, exhibits, and sells his unique potteries with his son. We believe his passion and views on pottery will inspire your view of life. Why not visit “Kotouen” when you come to Kyoto?

Japanese people have been losing the core mentality.

What he told us first was about his concerns. He worries that Japanese people have been losing the core mentality of buying one item and holding onto it for generations. According to him, it is so easy to get things today. It leads to the tendency to throw things away easily as well. As a result, we’ve nearly forgotten the value of keeping an item, especially pottery for a long time.

He reflected on his values in service. When someone enters Kotouen, he wants them to feel comfortable choosing what you feel most connected with in his atelier. “There is no right and false. If you like it, take it and keep it carefully,” he says. His works are also the result of what he felt good about. When his work encounters your feelings at the atelier in Kyoto, a type of synergy of art and purpose are created.

Not online, only here

“We create our unique works here in the shop,” he says. He doesn’t sell his products online at all. Instead, he just creates, exhibits and sells his pottery while entertaining his guests.

He says, “I want you to enjoy the one-time encounter. When you come here next, our exhibition is changed.”

He thinks it sounds a bit unreasonable that people in different places use same goods. People in nature have different feelings, senses, and preferences in different places though they follow the same trend. He doesn’t deny it strongly, but doesn’t it seem a kind of antithesis that he creates and displays his works only at his atelier?

The best landscape at Arashiyama?

Some foreign people get inspired by him and they sometimes visit this “Kotouen.” Then, he serves his special coffee in one of his cups and enjoys a good chat with them. Though “Kotouen” is not so famous and big, people who know this place come to visit all too often.

By the way, Arashiyama, where the “Kotouen” is located is one of the most popular travel areas in Kyoto.

What is your favorite spot in Arashiyama, Shoichi?

“I love the moon over Ogurayama Mountain. People 500 years ago enjoyed this panorama, too.”

How about finding your favorite potteries at “Kotouen”? And why not keep it for generations to come?