The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park 滋賀県立陶芸の森
Ceramic creations from fine art to furry friends, and hands-on chances as well
Shigaraki is one of Japan's great pottery regions, and Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park celebrates the area's long history with crockery and more.
- Learning about the wabi-sabi of Shigaraki pottery
- Grabbing a tanuki statue for home
- Checking out the noborigama, an ingenious climbing kiln
How to Get There
You can get to the park by train to Shigaraki Station and then by bus.
From Kyoto, take the JR Biwako Line to Kusatsu (note that the JR Tokaido main line is also known as the Biwako Line in this area), and then the Kusatsu Line to Kibukawa. From Kibukawa, take the Shigaraki-Kogen-Tetsudo railway to Shigaraki Station. You can walk to the park or take a five-minute bus ride on the Koka City Community Bus Service.
One of the pottery greats
It's believed that Shigaraki got its start in pottery and ceramics in 742, making tiles for a nearby palace. Over time, the color and quality of Shigaraki clay became popular for tea utensils. Now this area is known as one of the six great pottery regions of Japan.
Unique tanuki statues in Shigaraki
Shigaraki continues to produce high-end ceramic art. The style is often warm in color and in a "wabi-sabi" style that celebrates simplicity and imperfection. The area also makes many humble household implements.
The area is also famous for its roly-poly tanuki statues, from a few inches tall to bigger than an adult man. The tanuki, or raccoon dog, is a forest critter, and you'll often see ceramic ones outside bars and izakaya, inviting passersby to have a drink. His goofy, inebriated smile also brings good luck.
Chances to get your hands on some clay
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park aims to expose visitors to this ancient and continuing heritage. It has multiple exhibition halls displaying fine art as well as industrial ceramics.
The park also hosts research facilities, artists in residence, and hands-on experiences for visitors. There is an annual pottery festival and sale, but the dates have shifted in recent years so check ahead.