Hamanako Art and Craft Fair, day 2

After a 20 km. traffic jam I am back from Hamanako.

It seems to me that what I have been hearing about the Japanese being tired of ceramics is more true than not. I think it is necessary to lead the imagination of the buyer by setting up the work so it can be understood in context, not just let the work  sit there and proclaim how beautiful it is on its own. I am going to an outdoor event in Nara this coming weekend and will try that out by doing place settings.

I read on a list I subscribe to a comment about the Japanese along the lines of  ‘ … donning an affectation that they are the only people on the earth that inhabit a country that has 4 seasons.’ I laughed when I read the comment and I laugh every time I think of it. It is off in the sense that if American and they are the inhabitants of the #1 nation on the earth or British and are the guardians of the “true” English were substituted in the appropriate places it makes it obvious it isn’t an affectation. It is what is wholeheartedly believed and as such isn’t affected.

I heard some silly comments during the 2 days in Hamanako and all that sprung to mind was that affectation line.

One woman, picking up a bowl I made, said ” it is a little big to be a rice bowl, but you wouldn’t know what a rice bowl is, would you?”

Another woman replied after I identified myself as a U.S. citizen and had asked her where her daughter was on vacation in the U.S., ” in Washington state, but you don’t know what that is, right?”

One last thought. I think the level of the average exhibitor at these shows is exceptionally high. It would be great to find a way for them to sell to an audience outside of Japan.


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2 Responses to “Hamanako Art and Craft Fair, day 2”

  1. rob Says:

    One woman, picking up a bowl I made, said ” it is a little big to be a rice bowl, but you wouldn’t know what a rice bowl is, would you?”

    I ran into this all the time ….日本人論 or nihonjinron, the concept of Japanese uniqueness. Related story….. when talking with my my fiance in the early 90’s from my studio outside Tokyo about selling my work in Japan, she put it simply. If Hiroshi Tanaka (read John Doe) potter from down the road had the same chawan for sale as you did at the same price, they would by his and not yours 99 times out of 100. I found that work that tends to sell is work that refers to local traditions yet carries some fairly distinct/foriegn differences/influences. Yet not many buyers will be adventureous……

    It is really a fine line, and striking a balance is difficult but as Karatsu potter Kawakami Kiyomi told me regarding my teaware, “Quit listening to the chajin and make your pots, your work will be all the better for it.”

    頑張って ……..

    You’ve got a tough market there Dave, and hope to meet some day…


    • togeii Says:

      I agree. The market is a tough one. I have been very happy lately selling work that is as wild as can be. I do think the advantages, such as they are, a non-Japanese brings to the table are a new eye, a lack of bindings. Those coupled with the changes the Internet has brought and I think it is possible to find an audience more easily these days. I also find the Japanese to be die-hard fans. Once you have them as a ‘fan’, the way the word is used here, they stick with you for the long run.
      Do let me know when you are in Japan again. It would be great to meet.

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