31 August 2018

Visiting artists in Japan - volume 2: Tamotsu Suzuki

beautiful vessel made by Tamotsu Suzuki

Back in UK, slowly recovering from a jet lag as I write this blog post. Time does go so quickly when you are having a good time, indeed. I always feel that the holiday can become extra special when you meet “people”on the land, rather than just sightseeing or laying on a beach, as it can enrich your experience and create memory. It has certainly did for us and visiting a family of Tamotsu Suzuki was one of such lovely memories.

I have been admiring his work for nearly two years ever since I have started Instagram. His expression of clay work and the details of nature around him on his Instagram feed must have been aspired so many viewers, not to mention myself of course, and I have been wishing to visit his studio one day. That day, did come true fairly quickly in a best possible way. 

Instagram community in UK (or all English speaking basis, should I say) has been somewhat life changing experience. Connection you can make with like-minded people is not just comforting but encouraging in a real life. 

Luckily the same has happened to me by using my native Japanese language and the result was quite significant. When I asked about visiting his studio in Kobuchizawa in the middle of beautiful mountain side, he kindly offered us to stay over night with them.

To be honest, we hesitated at first. We felt it would be too much, especially with a little one too, thought we would be too imposing. Plus, he is an experienced potter, unlike myself. Wouldn’t it be rude in Japan? After all, we are strangers other than our occasional comments on Instagram.

Then again, I also felt that it would be a great opportunity to get to know each other better, see their life and culture, which would also benefit to my daughter and husband. After some discussion with my husband, we have decided to trust our gut feeling and my instinct about him from our conversation. 

It’s funny when you worry something like this, often the others feel the same. Tamotsu later said the same. But we quickly felt it was the right decision and found our comfort in his family home.

Tamotsu in his own studio

In fact, our daughter Sabrina has instantly made a bond with his daughter, who’s a little older than her. Quietly but comfortably played together, to the point that she did not even want to come to visit his studio with us as she wanted to carry on playing with her, which was very unusual to her! Actually it was so sweet to see these two girls in their own world, and with that bonus, we have managed to explore Tamotsu’s studio and get his insight for some time without any distraction! Ha!

He hand builds each piece and finishes with slip in Japanese “kohiki” style, which mostly leaves matt surface texture. Every details are taken cared of, such as rims, which I particularly adore. Glaze colours he uses are often mono tone and they give somehow rustic yet modern style on your table.

He also makes sculptural pieces inspired by plants. I could spot them here and there in his house and studio, totally naturally, as if they are gently breathing and inhabiting. 

The view from his studio was magnificent. Clean air, sound of spring water. Everything was meant to be there to inspire you and balance your life. 

a stunning view from his studio even on a cloudy day

Hospitality from his family was genuine and at the same time so natural. We had a short trip to a local onsen (public bath with a hot spring), made gyoza (Japanese dumplings) as a part of the lovely dinner that night and played hanabi (fire work - one of ‘must do’ during summer in Japan) in the evening. Many of these were first experience for Sabrina and she absolutely loved every minute of it. Tamotsu’s down-to-earth, honest and open character made us feel at ease. There were laughters and smiles. Conversation lasted till late evening.

his guest room welcoming us with calmness
his daughter’s ‘teeny’ origami creations! 

Thank you so much for having us Tamotsu and his family. It was wonderful to have spent time together. We shall definitely treasure our memory as much as his pottery we happily brought home with us. 

Tamotsu’s webiste, click here

Tamotsu’s instagram, click here

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