Sunday, 1 July 2007

Mashiko pottery village

Mashiko, a little like Kiyomizu is a pottery village in which lamost everybody is involved with the making, marketing or sxhibiting of cermaics. Part of the Mashiko 'pottery experience' is the home of late National Treasure, Shoji Hamada, showing his extensive collection of traditional ethnic crafts or Mingei from around the world, as well as his own pottery workshop, kilns and house. Hamada had his house was moved to its present location in 1942. The other farmhouses surrounding the cottage are locally made Mashiko houses. He wanted his collection of Eastern and global artefacts to be available for others to study and hence his foundation of this collection. The key exceptions are an indigo dyeing house and a woodblock museum. As we walked down a mountain path, the town seem inundated in dragonflies (and other insects). Hamada's home, too, was generously populated with yellow and brown large dragonflies. In the bus on the way back to the station, the ubiquitous greenness of the rice fields and rich diversity of other agricultural pursuits was impressive.

After a momentary diversion in the electronics store, we finished up with DIY shabu shabu in Shinjuku. Shabu shabu consist of briefly swishing your meat and vegetables through a lightly seaweeded water-based broth in a hotpot broiling at the table and dipping the culmination into variously sesame or soy-based sauces. This is a kind of sporting fun dining past-time like fondue, in which you are responsible for your own culinary fate! It was also Mum and Dad's first chance to see bustling Shinjuku by night parading its beautiful neon animations and signage, a sight to behold even for country folks. Shinjuku is also one of the most lively, multi-cultural and renowned pleasure districts for salarymen and foreign visitors, seething with life throughout the night with its more sordid parts and dubious cleanliness if you transgress too far off the backalley. By day, it is the lively hub of commerce and my preference, the large Kinokuniya bookshop.