March 3, 1983 (Pisces)

Hobbies: Taking trips to experience tea and crafts. When I travelled to Okinawa, I visited a farmer who grows black tea and experienced local urushi and ceramics. It was inspiring. I also go to other countries like Taiwan for tea and crafts. In Taiwan, it was fun to look for antiques. On another day, I visited a tea farmer and was surprised by how good their oolong tea tasted.
Something I've done for a long time: The answer to this is tea as well. Matcha, sencha, Chinese tea, black tea; I love it all. Some things I do are visit tea farmers and make Chinese tea at home. Lately, I started practicing tea ceremony again for the first time in seven years, relearning everything from the basics. I also like looking at tea utensils, including the ones we make at Asahiyaki.

Located in Uji, Kyoto - famous as the center of tea culture in Japan - Asahiyaki is a pottery maker founded approximately 400 years ago. Their first generation of artisans was bestowed with the mark of "Asahi" by Kobori Enshu, a distinguished tea master and disciple of Sen no Rikyu, who revolutionized tea culture. Asahiyaki was thus known as one of the seven Enshu kilns, a title they proudly carry even now.

Asahiyaki developed hand-in-hand with Uji tea and Japanese tea ceremony, with many of their tea utensils becoming favorites with feudal lords, court nobles, and tea masters alike. Their artisans continue to make pottery fired in a large climbing kiln that has also been designed to prevent smoke from being released.

In 2017, they opened the Asahiyaki Shop & Gallery on the bank of the fast-flowing Uji River, an atmospheric space where you can experience the beauty of Asahiyaki. They also share their pottery and Uji's tea culture with the world through various events and tea ceremonies.

Tea and Vessels

Ever since I can remember, the men from the workshop and tea houses in the neighborhood would always invite me in for a cup of tea and make some for me. That's where my love for tea began.

Asahiyaki has developed alongside Uji tea for around 400 years. Our clay - something we value deeply - is made from raw soil that washed down here from Biwa Lake and Uji River and was then dug up by us. Another important element is our climbing kiln. We still fire with it here. Combining Uji's clay and the firing process of our climbing kiln, which uses firewood, brings forth a unique result with oranges and pinks, like the morning sun ("asahi" in Japanese).

Asahiyaki Shop & Gallery, our directly managed store where we show people the beauty of Asahiyaki, is a special place. Our ideal is to create somewhere you want to visit not just once, but many times over. Of course it would be to see our ceramics, but also me (the manager) and our staff, as if you were visiting a good friend. That's because the more you look at Asahiyaki's pieces, the more discoveries they yield.

Creating and Preserving Culture

Kyoto is a city with many cultural channels. For example, Kyoto's kimonos are created with dyeing and weaving techniques, involving countless passionate artisans. During festivals, the area's children also proudly participate. It makes me believe that the local people and their passion are what creates culture. As culture is something that cannot be brought back once lost, I feel a sense of crisis over it potentially going away. Culture always requires effort to keep it relevant in addition to a sense of modernity. Passion is very important for this.

Asahiyaki's role as an Uji workshop is to pass down the crafts and tea culture of Kyoto to modern times. To do this, I believe it's important to know their context and actively share information with the world. I think these efforts will lead to preserving culture. Currently, I feel that there are too many crowds in Kyoto's tourist spots, and that culture cannot develop without places where you can have unrushed exchanges with others. That's why we value being close to others at our store.

Building on the Foundation of our Ancestors

For a small studio like ours, I think it's important to make things with our artisans and PR and sales staff coming together as a team. Rather than systematically producing things that meet one's needs, we constantly take a trial-and-error approach, which isn't too efficient. We believe in this style of production and do not follow a factory-like system that divides work between different people. As a result, while we hope to always have a fresh sense of beauty and sensibility, when it comes to producing things, people probably see us working at a classic, relaxed pace. We release around 15 to 20 new products a year. During product planning meetings, the majority don't come from completely new ideas; rather, there are quite a few products that we made using hints found in our previous work. We approach our craftsmanship with a constant awareness that we're building on the foundation that our ancestors built before us.

Beauty in Genuineness

I like genuine things. I'm the kind of person who's always wondering about this and that, but when I'm not sure what to think, I base my judgement on whether it's genuine or not. When it comes to beauty, I also judge by genuineness. When I get to the heart of why I'm in this line of work, the answer is because I want to look at beautiful, genuine things.

When I come across a ceramic piece, I turn it upside down and look at the bottom of the foot. I feel that within it lies a beauty that can't be concealed. I never get tired of looking at the view presented by the foot of a piece because while standards for judging the beauty of a piece depends on the person, I can see a genuineness shared by the feet of all of them.

People from ancient times must have seen the morning and setting sun so many times – enough to tire of it. Yet I believe that like us, no matter how many times they saw it, they found it beautiful and never did get enough of it. Lately, feeling beauty in the morning and setting sun and in the foot of ceramics is the same to me.



There are so many different types of pottery, from pieces using ash glaze made from trees to ones decorated like paintings. How do you think we should enjoy them?
With pottery used for tea ceremonies, many people judge their value based on who made or owned it, but I'd like you to not think about that too much and simply enjoy its beauty and artistry. In Japan, we use chopsticks and bring dishes to our mouths, meaning that we're physically close to them. On the other hand, people in Western countries use knives and forks, which creates distance between them and their dishes. As a result, the West favors pottery with easily comprehensible designs like pictures. Of course, Japan also has pieces with painted designs, but we're very aware of the form and texture when we make them. It's not about which is better than the other; everything is influenced by the difference in cultures, so if you look at pottery with that in mind, you'll discover the beauty within, making it even more enjoyable.
There seems to be a growing trend of fewer young artisans and avoiding handwork due to prioritizing efficiency. Do you hope to preserve handmade pottery?
My brother (the 16th-generation and current head of Asahiyaki) often says that much like a relay race, tradition requires people to pass the baton to another. If the baton stops somewhere, the race is over. Currently, Asahiyaki's artisans are made up of those who began working during previous generations and young people we hired last year. We don't have many people who stand in the middle. We constantly feel a sense of crisis; we mustn't drop the baton.

However, having gone through the pandemic, I do feel that the world has learned to value not just efficiency, but also emotional substance. It's become easier to convey craftsmanship like ours, which is classed as traditional culture. Something being handmade isn't the selling point. Instead, I want to treasure processes including handwork that is necessary.
Is there anything you’re having trouble due to current trends in the industry and society in general?
As someone who produces tea utensils, it's quite tough now that there are more people drinking tea from plastic bottles and less people using kyusu teapots. It's hard to assume that it's natural for everyone to make tea in a kyusu, so I'm constantly thinking about how I can share how fun it is to do so with future generations in a fresh way. The domestic market for tea ceremony utensils is also shrinking. However, now it's possible to distribute content on a global scale, so I hope to share the beauty of tea and Japan's pottery with the world. Such pieces aren't suited to being used outside, but I have serious plans to create sets that let you enjoy tea outdoors.


Price 200,000 yen
Number of participants per group 1-4 people
Available times 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cancellation policy 100% cancellation fee 7 days or more before the event date.
Payment method Credit card only
Application Requirements Participants must be at least 18 years old
(Children 12-18 years old may participate if accompanied by a parent or guardian)
Reservation deadline Until 7 days prior to the date of the dialogue
What will happen on the day 1. Pick up at hotel
2. Arrive at location of dialogue
3. Chat and explanation about dialogue
4. Dialogue with your chosen Kyotoite
5. Drop off at hotel


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