Another Aspect of Kyoto, as a Town of Tea: Sumiyama District
Sumiyama is a mountain village located at the north end of Uji. The area has about 40 kilns for Kyo-yaki ware (Kiyomizu-yaki ware), making it a tourist spot where you can observe the craftsmanship of professionals.
The Sumiyama district started to be developed when the kilns of Kiyomizu-yaki ware in Higashiyama in Kyoto City moved to this area upon receiving a request from the city to move, as the smoke and soot they produced caused problems in the urban area about 50 years ago.
Kyo-yaki ware rose to its preeminent position from about 400 years ago with the establishment of the tea ceremony. The difference from other pottery is that Kyo-yaki ware is based on various techniques from various areas. The decorative painting techniques and materials used vary among the kilns.
The reason that techniques from all over Japan gathered to create a new thing was its location, Kyoto.The soil used is a blend of those from several areas in Japan.There are also some climbing kilns in the area, which are still actively used.
While the mainstream culture of pottery in other countries is to produce as uniform products as possible using molds, Japanese items are often characterized by being handmade and each having unique features.
The area offers visitors an opportunity to observe close-up the production process of Kyo-yaki ware, from shaping using a pottery wheel, to surface decoration, and to firing. Moreover, the scenery of several kilns standing in a natural setting is quite attractive.
Uji Sta. (JR Nara Line or Keihan Uji Line) 17 min by car from Uji Sta. (JR or Keihan)
*The information herein is as of December 2018.