A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 

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behind closed doors
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
behind closed doors

Where artists are at work,

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Nishi no Hara
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
Nishi no Hara

The 246 commune of Kyushu. A community lab in a refurbished former pottery factory where creativity flows.

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jars for treasures
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
jars for treasures

Hand made delicate jars for treasures in various sizes.

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the little blue house
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
the little blue house

A freshly brewed cuppa, a homemade sandwhich Wonderful life!

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fishing village
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
fishing village

All along the coast lines are fishing villages lined up. Once prosperous places, hosting geishas, collecting stories of the past.

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Arita 2016
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
Arita 2016

The next generation of potters take on the skills of contributing artists to create Arita 2016.

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rainbows
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
rainbows

A drawer for the newly made, rainbow glasses, made by skilled artisans.

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the grocer
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
Grocery Morisuke

The cutest international organic grocer. Feels like home.

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weekend lunch
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
weekend lunch

Slow living life here in the cafe, planning the next outing to an ancient pottery village.

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sea side
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
sea side

Filling up the soul with the energy of the blue ocean.

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tropical touch
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
tropical touch

Next to a church stands a shrine...and an impressive entrance guarded by old palm trees reminding us of how South we are.

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farmers market in Hasami
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
farmers market in Hasami

The cutest farmers market ever. A Sunday fulfilled.

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a pottery barn
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
a pottery barn

A pottery barns shelf, drying the latest creations to get them ready for firing,

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the littles garden
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
the littles garden

Picked up some inspiration and techniques here for my rooftop garden. To sew a seed is to believe in the future.

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glass blowing
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
glass blowing

One at the time, silver covered glasses are in making to serve someones table, whomever is so lucky. Hand made over factory made.

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ice cream time
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
ice cream time

Ice cream is always a good idea. Especially when it's homemade with the seasonal local fruit. May I say: persimmon!

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barns that arent barns
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
Nishi No Hara

With a little imagination and a lot of good will, the old can remain and become the new. How refreshing to be surrounded by history.

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foreign residences
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
foreign residences

Foreign residences overlooking the bay of Nagasaki port, catching sunrays at sunset.

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coffee break
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
coffee break

An former ceramic factory turned into a roastery. A fine place to gather thoughts.

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logs for the fire
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
logs for the fire

Like in ancient times. Hard labor comes with each piece of pottery.

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art works here
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
art works here

An atelier with shelfs of boxes, buckets, a pile of thin silver sheets, glowing kilns...is where magic happens.

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paint brushes
A weekend in the historical South Islands of Japan 
paint brushes

Precision work with hand made paint brushes. Where a stroke is like light touch laying foundations for colour.

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Kyushu seems small on the map but when you get there it feels like you want to add more days to the trip. It’s very hilly, with many islands that can only be reached by boat. A drive up North from Nagasaki airport was like a dive into the Japanese history from the first arrival of Portuguese until the beginning of the industrialization end of the 19th century.

If you have watched Martin Scorsese’s movie “Silence” or read James Clavell’s “Shogun”, it’d sound familiar. We went to Hirado island, where the first Portuguese landed at the end of the 16th century to start commerce and spread Catholicism. This is where Christians hid on islands, in the thick forests, preaching in silence if not found out after their religion was outlawed by the shogunate in 1614.
Churches are here and there, in bright blue and white or red stoned towers, right next to ancient temples and bamboo forests.

In Nagasaki, old stone bridges and docks of Deijma -the only trading post between Japan and the outside world during the Edo period- are now surrounded by new buildings. But this was the place where the porcelain of Arita, Imari, and Hasami where bought and exported through the Dutch East India Company’s own network. A stop by the Glover House in Nagasaki will remind you that many foreigners were actually behind the industrial and political rise of the Modern Japanese nation after its opening to the world in 1853-4.

If life brings you to Northern Kyushu, here is what I recommend you visit:
Arita – famous for their pottery skills, especially the new line celebrating foreign artists with local craftsman under the label called 2016 Arita. The retro looking pottery museum is an interesting pit stop as are the ateliers of the oldest pottery maker in town called Kakiemon.  
Korean potters originally introduced their savoir-faire in Arita and Imari before these two towns made Chinese-styled porcelain for the Dutch. Arita used to work together with the neighboring Hasami town, where you must see the creative complex in one refurbished pottery factory called Nishinohara, now a hype organic grocer, a sustainable select shop, an art gallery, workshop spaces, a cafe serving delicious home made Japanese home food (and cake), a cafe with their own roastery and of course a pottery shop for every day use hand made tableware.

Some people are so skilled, they forget that they even doing something special. This was my impression of this glass blower in the country side near Arita. He is living with his adorable wife a simple life, creating pieces for an exhibition in Paris and drifting off into thoughts like artists do.


In the atelier, that has been there since the Edo period, once surrounded by fields, now by houses and buildings, the know how is transmitted from generation to generation.

Each and every piece is hand made, by one of his three craftsman left to honor the name, although, there is no particular branding. Not on any of his pieces. They simply accompany a pride of accomplishment and an honor to serve as flatware to whom ever cherishes hand made over factory made.

 

My eyes caught the blue water pitcher that comes with a glass fitted over the spout, for bedside tables. Blue, being a healing power to serve water in, aligning the 5th and 6th chakras, the throat and the third eye. It’s an exquisite piece, for one self or for a gift.

Can’t wait for my next trip to this gorgeous island in Southern Japan!

Follow Abi’s Journal on instagram for real time updates, tips and trips on things that feed our mind, body & soul.

 

Abi

Abi

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