Kasama region in Ibaraki became a center of ceramic ware production during the mid-Edo era because of the availability of quality materials which were ideal for ceramics.
The tradition continues over the years. It is home to the first ceramic museum Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum and Prefectural Kasama Togeidai School where students learn the art of ceramics. There are also many galleries, and the city went to great lengths to bring the residence of the famous potter Rosanjin from Kamakura to their city.
The annual “Kasama Himatsuri Festival” which is held around the Golden Week Holidays, attracts more than 200 potters who sell their wares, and also offers food booths and musical performances, drawing about 500,000 visitors each year.
What makes Kasama different from other ceramic styles is the lack of a very distinct shape or pattern. The area drew many young potters, encouraging freeform creation using clay and lacquer from around the nation. In fact, this free style is what makes it unique, attracting praise from many fans.
Makiko Suzuki is one of the artists who was drawn to the appeal of Kasama-yaki and came to this area.
Her aunt was an art teacher who opened a ceramic studio after retiring. This spurred Makiko to devote herself to becoming a professional potter around 2003. She continued to develop her own style after learning the basics, and launched her own brand in 2006. Her goal is to create pieces that are “gentle to women”.
The pieces are light enough for women to use even as they age, are stackable so that they take up minimal space, and are designed to effortlessly fit into the décor. They must also be beautiful enough to be used as a vase, make meals appealing, and fun to use in different color combinations.
Inspired by Lucie Rie, the popular potter who was based in Great Britain in the latter half of the 20th century, the beautiful turquoise colored pieces are modern yet delicate and also practical, drawing popularity among women.
Her workshop is located on the grounds of an old residence in Kasama city. While workshops tend to be tense, the atmosphere here is quite laid back. Makiko tries to set aside time to settle her mind before she begins creating. “I believe that if I smile while creating my pieces, they’re more likely to bring joy to those who use them.” Her pieces are very popular in boutiques and are sold under the brand “La Maison de Vent“ which means “the house of the wind”. The brand concept is “may this piece be a gathering place for smiling faces”, and each gently beautiful piece is filled with the fresh breeze of Kasama and Makiko’s smile.
- Makiko Suzuki
- Kasama, Ibaraki