Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Complex 清水焼団地
Kyoto's pottery neighborhood
For centuries, the artisans of the Gojo district have produced kiyomizuyaki pottery, some of the finest stoneware in Kyoto . In 1962, the Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Complex was established. Even though the potters' kilns no longer burn here, many of the companies and artisans' shops remain, holding treasures that have yet to be discovered.
Kiyomizuyaki pottery is a kind of stoneware; because of its fine appearance, it's often mistaken for porcelain
The colors in kiyomizuyaki pottery's glaze are vivid and contain a high percentage of glass which is fired at a low temperature, making the pigments in the glass appear nearly transparent
Historically, kiyomizuyaki pottery was made by unnamed artisans and created for export, while 17th-century Kyo-yaki, another kind of kiyomizuyaki ware, was signed by artisans and produced for domestic use
How to Get There
From Kyoto Station , take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Yamashina Station. Take a bus from Yamashina Station and get off at Kiyomizuyaki-danchi bus stop. The trip should take about 30 minutes.
The Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Complex is home to nearly 70 shops and companies involved in the sale of Kiyomizuyaki pottery, now known as kiyomizu ware. Four hundred years ago, this pottery was created at the base of Kiyomizu-dera temple. Nowadays, Kiyomizu ware is the name that is used to describe all pottery made in Kyoto.
Kiyomizuyaki pottery and Japanese tea ceremony
With the tea ceremony's rise in popularity in the 16th century, local artisans began producing the tools and cups used during this ritual. Tea ceremony masters, noblemen, and Buddhist monks, who had power and influence during that time, began serving tea in Kiyomizu ware, thus making Kiyomizu ware sought after.
The first artisans who produced Kiyomizu ware learned their skills from Chinese and Korean potters, adapting the style to meet the sophisticated tastes of those who used it. Kiyomizu ware today is characterized by its meticulous details and sophisticated designs.
Modern-day artisans who produce this craft continue to hand paint individual pieces with ornate designs in the traditional way. Demand for these hand-painted pieces is high, making them difficult to find.
Shop and learn
Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Complex has a seemingly endless amount of pottery to look at. In addition to shopping, you can visit workshops and learn how artisans produce their wares. If you want a more hands-on experience, you can participate in a pottery class and give pottery throwing a whirl.
Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Festival
If you only have a few days in Kyoto and you want to buy pottery, the Kiyomizuyaki no Sato Matsuri pottery festival is a must see. It's held on the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October each year.
If you're after a bargain, this festival won't disappoint; ceramics are on sale at steep discounts. In addition to shopping, you can watch pottery demonstrations and indulge in local delicacies. Don't worry about the crowds; extra buses run from JR Kyoto Station to the festival.
For the ultimate in pottery shopping, check out the Gojozaka Pottery Fair held annually on August 7 to 10. It's the largest pottery fair in Japan features nearly 500 small shops spanning five city blocks.