We had spent hours before this walking in the Yokohama area. After the visit to the park we strolled over to a tiny coffee shop nearby for a well-earned cup of coffee. The owner was an old friend of my travel companion. He eagerly presented us with a great cup of freshly ground Columbian coffee. Seldom has a cup of coffee tasted that good.
As there was just one table in the back of the coffee shop, we shared a table with two ladies. After talking to them for a while, they invited us to visit an old pottery nearby. We gratefully accepted, as this seemed like something you needed an invitation to visit. They called the owner enthusiastically, and soon we were on our way again.
The old pottery
After a short walk, we reached the old pottery and were invited inside. The place turned out to be a 400-year old pottery with a great history. We were taken on a small tour of the showroom, seeing the unique work of this great pottery master. Suddenly, the master himself appeared, and invited us to have tea with him. He told us the story of the place, and an interesting one it was. As it turned out, the room where we had tea, was the very place where the Shogun was received when visiting the area. A special place, indeed.
The room was adorned with a special Kamon, or seal, which just selected placed are allowed to use. The master told us that he was the 15th master of this special tradition of pottery, which had remained unchanged for several centuries. The pots are not painted, but are dyed naturally from the clay used, and from straw which is wrapped around it. This way of making pots are sometimes called "the way of the Gods", as the potter himself has left the pattern and color of the finished products to the gods.
The master gave us each a small cup made in this way. A special gift from a great, but humble master.
Tradition of the ancestors
When we were done drinking our delicious tea, the old master took us through the beautiful garden and showed us his workshop and the oven in which the pots are made. Even though the master was old at the time, the production was still high, as he had several apprentices at work. The tradition had to be preserved, and his family is prepared to continue the age-old practice. After all, it's a cultural heritage not easily copied or resurrected if once lost.
We were also were privileged enough to be shown the graves of these ancestors, which was located in a corner of his garden. The graveyard also held several important priests and historical figures of the region.
As our visit came to an end, we had a few pictures taken outside the old house, and thanked the old master many times. He sent us on our way with hopes of meeting us again in the future.
When I left the place I did so with a sense of having experienced something out of another time.