Chionji hand made art market in Kyoto.

I spent a hot Sunday selling at Chionji market in Kyoto. Here are some more pictures, not from my camera. All my pictures are from the early morning, set up time. My memory card then somehow got dislodged and didn’t record the pictures I took later.

The market is well known and seems to be in a lot of guide books judging from the number of tourists I met.

The market is brutal in timing. You have to be at the gate at 5:00 AM. The gates open at 6:00 sharp and the “rules” are that everyone then runs to secure a place. What actually happens is very different. We left the house at 3:30 AM and got to Chionji at about 4:50. There were already many sellers unloading cars. The odd thing was there were only about 2 people waiting on the outside of the gate. Everyone else was busy staking out spaces along the perimeter of the inside compound. My slicing intelligence told me the rules and reality were about to have a disconnect. My experience also told me to keep my big mouth shut and let my wife do the heavy lifting of negotiation. The actual reality works like this. The organizers of the market come out and inform the newbies that they have to wait outside the gate till 6:00 and when the gong is hit ask the people that have already staked out a space if they would possibly mind if you intruded and set up in the empty space between. Japanese egalitarianism in action.

We got lucky and a 17 year veteran of Chionji let us set up next to her in THE prime spot, just inside the gate. There is a saying in Japanese  ただほど怖いものはない。There isn’t anything scarier than something free. I think it is an accurate and useful way to live in Japan.  She got very upset at us when rain water fell off our tent into her space.

I met a guy named Akira Kaida. His site is here. Very beautiful celadon work. It floats it is so nice. He first worked as a production thrower in a Kiyomizu ware producer and then switched to throwing bowls for the Raku family. Yes. Throwing 400,000 yen pots for THE Raku family. He is now doing his own work but doesn’t seem to be selling that much. I think he is the proof that the quality of work matters less than the marketing. If quality of work counts he would be selling all he makes.


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