An Afternoon with Hamada Pt. 3: His Studio

Click here for a video of Hamada's studio and kiln.

The pot shop held seven inset kick wheels like the one below. The sun bursting through adjacent windows made each wheel's surface look like it was glowing. In my mind I could imagine a team of potters turning bowls as the junior apprentices continually replenished their supply of clay. Although the studio would be considered small in overall size it was well organized with shelves that hung down from the ceiling. This over head storage system kept the main floor space open.

A few green ware pots were left scattered around the studio. I'm sure they were not original but they did help establish a context for the otherwise empty studio. During the decades it was in use thousands of pots emerged from the studio. These three bowls sat frozen on the shelves waiting to be trimmed before they could be decorated.

Our tour concluded with a viewing of Hamada's eight chamber noborigama kiln. Many of the chambers where destroyed in the March 2011 Fukushima earthquake. Seeing his kilns reduced to rubble was quite sad. Although Hamada died in 1978 the quake has added a chilling epilogue to his legacy.

This travel series springs from my visit to Mashiko Japan and the home of world renown potter Shoji Hamada. Along with the help of Bernard Leach, Kanjiro Kawai, and philosopher Soetsu Yanagi, Hamada popularized the Mingei movement. For more info on the movement please visit the Mingeikan website by clicking here.


  1. Thank you very much for posting these entries. It is wonderful to see.

    1. Glad you are enjoying them. I can't wait to get back and see more of Japan. Have you been? There is so much history and innovation in one island nation.