Do you like pottery? Do you want to test out your slab building-skills or get a special souvenir to bring back home? Look no further than Kobushi Kiln (こぶし窯), the oldest pottery kiln in Hokkaido. Kobushi Kiln is a third-generation family kiln that was opened in 1946. Mr. Satori, the son of the founder, along with his son, Chiaki, currently continue to run it.
The kiln is known for using only locally-sourced and handmade materials to make their products. When the kiln started its business in the 1940s, there were not many art supplies stores around. To make the pottery, they had to figure out themselves how to work with natural materials. They not only had to use clay from their local area in Hokkaido, but they also had to make their own glaze, which would sometimes take years to fully create. To do this, they gathered materials to test in the kiln. If they melted, they would use it for the glaze. If they did not melt, they would use it for the foundation. They still continue this practice today, so it still takes a long time to develop new styles and colors. However, all of the hard work and dedication put into making each piece is extremely admirable.
Photo by Réhan NelWhile admission to the kiln is free, tours are available every day for those who are interested, except on public holidays. The kiln's hours are from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. except Sundays, when the kiln’s hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. During winter seasons, they are also open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They are closed on Wednesdays. Private tour prices range from 30,000 yen for two people to 45,000 yen for 5 people. Tours with Southern Sorachi tour agency may include a pickup from Sapporo Station or New Chitose Airport. Southern Sorachi sometimes offer large group tours at cheaper costs, so please check with them to see if they have a weekend tour planned.
Pieces are left out to dry. Photo by Réhan Nel.
Some natural materials used to make the pottery are displayed.When visiting the kiln, you can see the family’s different pottery styles across three generations at the kiln’s museum, adjacent to the workshop. You can learn of the kiln’s history as well as the details of the natural materials they used to make pieces and how these materials have changed over time. The museum also addresses which kind of pieces were the most popular during which time period.
Photo by Réhan Nel.Pottery workshops are available to those who are interested in making something of their own using Hokkaido clay. You can form coil bowls, slab build or try underglaze painting. The workshop fee for coil bowl-making and slab building is 2,600 yen, and it takes about an hour and 30 minutes. The fee for underglaze painting is anywhere from 2,000 to 3,500 yen, and it can take 40 minutes to an hour. For individuals, you should try to reserve a spot for a workshop at least two or three days in advance. For groups, try to make a reservation two weeks before.
There is also a small pottery shop for those interested in taking something home. The prices range from around 900 yen for small pieces (cups, etc.) to 5,000 or more for much larger pieces. Kobushi Kiln is known for its indigo blue products, so make sure to pick up one before you leave!
27, 5-jyo Higashi 13-chome, Iwamizawa, Hokkaido
株式会社 こぶ志陶苑 こぶ志窯
〒068-0005 北海道岩見沢市5条東13丁目(6条通り沿い) TEL:0126-22-4303
It is about a 5 minute car ride from Iwamizawa to Kobushi Kiln. From Sapporo Station to Iwamizawa Station can take 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the train. From New Chitose Airport to Iwamizawa takes around an hour and 30 minutes, or 1 hour by car. Free parking is available for five vehicles.