We wandered around a pottery school which takes students from around the world, as well as artists-in-residence. The pottery on display was okay, but what really intrigued me were the old fashioned kilns, or kama. There were several types built into the hillside, ones with single chambers, divided chambers, and a set of climbing chambers. Each uses fantastic amounts of wood, which comes in little 12 x 12 x 18 inch bundles. Three to five hundred bundles is a typical firing amount.
There was a museum, with a useful side that had the usual tea bowls and umbrella stands, but also a kind of interlocking brick on which you can grow moss. The video showed some buildings faced with this brick, which looked green and friendly.
On the traditional arts side of the museum, we saw the heavy glazes and rough pots that make the characteristic style of the region. They were beautiful and ugly at the same time, the wabi-sabi style. I was particularly taken with a heavy round pot with a heavy white drip glaze that had iridescent, purple, yellow, and green patches. Nishijima-san said that he was glad to visit the museum because examples of work done by potters who are ranked higher than he is are there, and because of their rank, he can't visit their studios to talk to them, he has to find other ways to see what they're doing.
We had a rather unfortunate lunch at Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. Then, back to Kyoto, where we took the romantic maple-leaf-viewing train along a river gorge. It was lovely, of course, but there was also the added thrill of being on a very old train with crowds of noisy sight-seers who were carrying on a hundred-year-old tradition. In 1920, the whole scene might have been pretty much identical.
Back in town, we looked through various stores for an electrical adapter, then met one of the taiko drummers for dinner at a small stir-fry restaurant. The chefs invited us to see what they were doing. They chopped up an entire head of cabbage, then added other ingredients, and stirred busily away. Their ferocious looking mustaches and head scarves, combined with nervous giggles was an interesting contrast. The food was really good, but far too much of it. "Don't you like Japanese food?"
We then drove around town in a mad effort to find either an onsen or Jason, ending with a birthday party for Jason that lasted well into the morning.
Word of the day: Tanuki: Japanese raccoon, a cute trickster figure in mythology.