”Ceramic Artist, Shinichi Honma” New tradition for Fujisawa in Iwate

”Ceramic Artist, Shinichi Honma”
New tradition for Fujisawa in Iwate

Entering the world of ceramics ”for no particular reason”

”Fujisawa-yaki” is created by putting the pottery into ”anagama” for several days, burning red pine continuously. Its characteristic color is a result of the red pine ash which gets attached to the pieces during the firing process and melts. That makes the special color. It creates a strong impression and presence by the texture of the clay and the simple but strong form.
We talked to Shinichi Honma who started Fujisawa-yaki. He created his pottery studio in 1972 in Fujisawa town, Iwate Prefecture and he has been creating ceramics for 40 years since then. However, he told us that he entered into the world of ceramics ”for no particular reason”. He was born and raised in Miyagi Prefecture and went to Tokyo for high school but never really felt at home there, and thought about moving to the countryside. When he was in university, he didn’t take any classes and during that time he entered into the world of ceramics ”for no particular reason”.
”I first went to Mino and was told to work for 5 or 6 years” he said. After that, he was making ceramics in Miyagi but thought that ”I want to create ceramics by wood firing. Red pine will be good.” and moved to this land. There are a lot of red pine that grows around Fujisawa town in Iwate. So that led to the start of Fujisawa-yaki.

Experiencing freedom, Noyaki Festival

Honma is also involved in ”Art of clay and fire, Fujisawa Noyaki Festival”. Long time ago, similar to how the indigenous people made clay pots, the festival features burning pottery in an open fire. The participants are not professional artists but general people from kindergarten children to the elderly. They place the pieces made of clay in a hole, and make a fire on top of it. They keep burning for 6-8 hours and the pieces are finished by firing in the remains of the fire.
It is simple yet dramatic. You can experience a primitive way of making ceramics. The festival has now grown to a scale which attracts people from outside the prefecture.
”They are normal office workers and farmers. But they make some amazing things. The idea they have is completely different from the artists, with ideas and designs that an artist will never think of. It is amazing to see the freedom of creation. You will encounter things that you will never be able to make.”

Experience making a pot with kick wheel

We moved to the studio to experience pot making. Honma uses local clay as well as clay from Kuji from the coastline. He showed us both. ”The color of the clay can be so different!” exclaimed Nakata with surprise seeing such different colors. Of course the character of the clay is also different. Sometimes he mixes these.
We also experienced the kick wheel. It is a method where forming is done while kicking a wheel. Nakata was absorbed with the kick wheel work, but was not really satisfied with his own creation.
”I am good at using just my foot. But I never used both hands and feet at the same time, so…….” he said laughing and finally finished his piece. Honma praised him saying ”It reminds me of the panari vase from Okinawa, it looks great.”
The keyword ”free idea” that we felt from talking to Honma hung in our minds. Learing from tradition but not tied by tradition. That was the atmosphere we felt in the studio.


Fujisawayaki Funkobokugama
Fujisawa-cho, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture
URL http://www.morinomirai.com/shop/honma/index.html