Before I fill you in on my latest cultural experience here in Japan, I wanted to share with you our first harvest. We don't actually have land, but we do have a 9th story balcony and there is enough room to attempt to grow ourselves some stuff in pots. We planted tomatoes (3 varieties), peppers (1 varieties), strawberries, soybeans and eggplants.
Here is what we picked first:
With this we made a salad (there is mozzarella cheese on top), and also grilled cheese with tomato sandwiches (not pictured). This was by far the best salad I have ever had!
Moving on to my cultural experience learning about Japanese ancient civilizations from this region of Japan and recreating how they made their traditional pottery. This was a free, yes, I said free, class offered by the base. Actually, it was a joint venture from the local city and the base. The city had arranged for members of the local community to attend this event. This was the first year it was offered, and what I gathered was that this acts as a dry run to see if it is a good, and then they want to offer this to children from the base next year.
I am not one to pass up on local cultural activities offered by the base, especially if they are free. Sometimes I wonder why more people don't attend some of these things. I have enjoyed each and every one of the activities that I have attended that was offered by the base.
This took place at the Misawa City Musuem. We were greeted by the head archeologist in the area, some important people from the city, the head of the school district and local volunteers (they acted as our helpers). We were given a lecture to start about the Jomon period and the pottery that was typical of this period. This period in history lasted for many years. I believe they said it was 15,000 years or maybe 10,000 years (I checked on Wikipedia and that says about 14,000 years). The early years was characterized by very basic pottery to be used for food and water. As the years went on, they developed more and more, creating tools which then allowed for more advanced pottery.
Each of us was given some written information and a well prepared work station. They even gave us each a bottle of water!
Here you see a gentleman from the museum going over the history with us.
Here is the pottery instructor. Actually, he is the head archeologist in the area, or so we were told. This is why he was showing us the technique, which was something they discovered from their excavations. They are even digging and finding artifacts on base. How cool!
This is a replica of one of those pots. This is what we were about to make.
Here are our tools. They are to mimic what would have been used all those years ago by the people in the Jomon period.
Here is my clay. Obviously a bit different than how it would have come a few thousand years ago.
Then we were shown, step by step, how to make the clay pot. I had 2 helpers with me and they showed me what to do, and helped me do it correctly. We started by cutting the clay into 6 equal pieces. Then taking 1 piece, we made a flat circle. This was the base of the pot.
Next we rolled out one of the pieces so that it looked like this.
It was coiled around the circular base and then molded together to create one new, unified piece.
You can see it is starting to form the bottom of the pot.
This continued with the other pieces of clay. We rolled each one out and then coiled it around the top of the pot and worked it together to form one pot.
Then higher and higher it went until it was at the correct height.
At this point the camera went away because the clay was really getting messy and there was a lot of work to do. Before I knew it we were done! The rope pictured above with all the tools was what was used to make the markings on this pot.
Here I am with my completed clay pot.
And here I am with my helpers.
Afterwards, there was still some clay around, so they showed us these little clay pieces that were also typical of the period. Basically they just let us make things if we wanted.
When all was said and done, our group posed with our pots. Notice that we all have the same "shoes" on. Since we are in Japan, this is the traditional way to go inside. You remove your shoes at the front door and are given a pair of slippers. If you were to enter the bathroom, you remove the slippers and put on special bathroom slippers instead.
The day wouldn't have been complete if our helpers didn't join us in the photo.
Seriously, this was a ton of fun. I am so glad I was able to attend. Now I just have to wait a few weeks for this to be fired and finished. Can't wait to see the final product.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever made pottery? Have you ever taken a cultural class in another country?