First bowl

August 2006, Karatsu, Japan.

French version

Squeezed between sea and mountains, Karatsu is a small city on the northern part of the Kyushu Island in the prefecture of Saga. Karatsu is one of these places, as many in Japan, where time seems to have stopped its course.
Away from Tokyo for a few days, just a one hour ride by train from Fukuoka, I came with the purpose to discover the famous potteries.
The bowls used for the tea ceremony still bear the mark of the Korean potter masters who came to Japan centuries ago. On a clay that comes out somewhere in between pink and yellow the grass is blown by the wind. Aren’t we like these ourselves, grass on the side of the road blown by the wind?
With passing time the bowl will acquire the polish time brings, in the workshops and in the shops one can see examples of that transformation. In Japan people value this polish. The ceramics produced in Karatsu are known for this.
IMG_9750 IMG_9753  Used bowl.
Bol Karatsu neuf IMG_9748  New bowl.
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 Example of yellow and pink clay.
From the castle built in 1608 only a keep remains. From there one can see a town squeezed between sea and mountains, a six kilometre beach and small islands that just look as mountains rising in the middle of the water.  
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This morning in a workshop, for the first time, I tried to make a bowl. It took me several hours. The effort was intense; the feeling was that I absolutely needed to get something out of my fingers. In the meantime I could see how my whole body through that work of my fingers was gained by happiness.
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Here is the bowl I received few weeks later at my place in Tokyo.
Long walk afterwards along the beach from Niji no Matsubara.
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Back to the inn, after the shower and the bath, resting on the tatami mats, on the low table in front of me the waitress just brought the tea. Inside the room the temperature is nice and cool, outside is just summer heat and strident calls of the insects.

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One discovers the clay as one also discovers what the fingers can do. While the technics is yet not there, each movement matters, concentration is intense, a wrong move and everything is ruined. The soft clay can collapse, it needs to get a shape. Little by little the gesture becomes instinctive.


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