In this feature, we introduce one of the six ancient kilns of Japan: Tokoname in Aichi Prefecture. The soil here contains a lot of iron and therefore, the fired clay has shades from red to dark brown. You can enjoy a stroll on the Tokoname Pottery Footpath, which is very popular among artists. It is also the setting for the animated film A Whisker Away (泣きたい私は猫を被る).
There are two courses to choose from shown in dotted pink & blue lines on the map.
The main landmark is a giant maneki-neko (lucky cat) statue called Tokonyan. This is the first spot many people who visit Tokoname stop by to take photos.
The most delightful thing about walking around in Tokoname is looking for the various cat statues in all shapes and sizes that dot the town. Even Tokonyan has two tiny cats facing it.
As you walk across the various backstreets, you will see clay pipes, tiles, large pots and statues.
Even the postboxes are decorated with clay art.
You will spot various creatures in clay adorning the front of homes.
There is also a school that teaches ceramics and plenty of pottery is available for sale.
How cute is this frog?
There are also various religious statues.
However, cats dominate the area the most.
You can also see huge brick chimneys scattered across town to direct smoke away from kilns.
Tokoname is both a tourist town and a residential area, so please make sure not to disturb locals. Avoid making too much noise or stopping at one spot for too long.
The whole area has several details that add to its image as a pottery town.
Even the ground is adorned with pottery remnants creating a unique experience as you wander around.
The next path is the end of Course A.
Dokan Zaka is a short, steep path lined with earthenware pipes and pots.
You won’t find similar walls elsewhere.
It is a culmination of function and design.
Look up or down the hill, the sight is one to remember.
In one part, you will find carvings of children’s drawings too.
Stand in the middle of the street to get these kinds of interesting photos.
As you wander along, you will see many interesting cat sculptures that are extremely cute.
In addition to the traditional Japanese climbing kiln, there are also modern kilns. You can buy ceramics from this town in a few stores.
The pottery is classic to Japan: earthy tones and simple shapes.
These long rectangular plates are great for sushi or condiments.
Each piece is handmade and the price is quite reasonable for a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
How beautiful are these patterns?
Matte-glazed ceramics are very popular in Japan and the world over.
Of course, there are cafes where you can experience and use the pottery made in the area.
The whole city feels like a museum. Look at the addition of these wheels in front of a house.
Even the store signs have a cat on top for attention.
The last spot is one that those who are fans of A Whisker Away will be familiar with: this is where the lead character and her friends part ways.
If you love ceramics and want to visit one of the ancient kilns, consider visiting Tokoname.
Tokoname Pottery Footpath (Yakimono Sanpomichi, やきもの散歩道)
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