The International Ceramics Festival Mino Executive Committee has announced the winning artworks of "11th International Ceramics Competition Mino".
All award winners and honorable mentions will be displayed in an exbitition at the Ceramics Park MINO from September 15th, 2017.
If you are interested in Mino ware, you may also enjoy our new article "The Story of Mino Ware (Part 1).
A video introduction to a new log house café in the mountains of Tajimi.
Cafe montana - a relaxing space in the mountains of Tajimi - opens to the public on August 22.e
The café is located near the strawberry and blueberry fields of Tsuzuhara, and the berries will be an important part of the menu in desserts and juices once they have been harvested. The area also provides a rich variety of vegetables. Breakfast will be one of the café's big sales points, as well as a delicious lunch. Breakfasts in the area are huge, cheap, and great value for money, compared to Tokyo, for example!
Business hours from September 01: 06:30 - 16:00.
Locate on Google Maps, here.
An article about how to navigate away from the crowds that are even starting to invade rural Japan.
In a humorous article for the Atlantic by an “old Japan hand”, Charles C. Mann, the author lists three Laws for how not to travel in Japan:
During a trip in 2006 in Shikoku - during Golden Week - he tested the Laws, and found that Law No. 1 is “definitely not true”, Law No. 2 is “definitely true”, and Law No. 3 is “slightly true”.
As a proponent of travel to rural Japan, I have to disagree with his conclusion on Law No. 3. The Law is not even “slightly true”! :-)
As Mann notes, many foreigners who have visited rural Japan finds it to be “as free of English speakers as, say, the Ozarks are of Japanese speakers. You will get lost, is the advice. Terribly, terribly lost.”
That is the idea behind Law No. 3. No English, no fun. But Law Number 1 (Do Not Rent a Car) is, as we shall see, also related to this. I have to tell you, Mr Mann’s article has gotten a little outdated here. The real reason for Rule No. 1, he says, is the terrible maps car rental companies will give you. Not only will you get lost because people can’t speak English, but because Japanese road maps are incomprehensible. Well, this was 2006. Now we have Google/Apple Maps, and they get smarter every day!
New Law No. 3: Do Definitely Go Into Rural Japan, Rent a Car if You Like, But Make Sure to Use Google Maps
Otherwise you may get lost. Terribly, terribly lost.
On the other hand, getting lost in a controlled way is fun! Just make sure to have a back-up plan - Google Maps in your pocket. As Mann says himself:
“Law No. 2 (Avoid Golden Week) is definitely true. But we had a terrific time nonetheless.”
They got to Japan during Golden Week, got lost, suffered from communication mix-up, and yet they had a blast on the countryside. I believe the only Law they shouldn’t have broken was the Golden Week one. So, what is “Golden Week”? It is the time of the year when many Japanese workers get about a week off around the end of April and beginning of May. Everything and everywhere is crowded, crowded, crowded. Still, the Mann family had a “terrific trip”, in spite of the bad timing, the state of the average English proficiency level in rural Japan, and the bad map.
Imagine if he had used Google Maps! A thing that will recommend the best route, guide you there in real time, and even talk! It will save your bacon, but there is one vital thing to remember here: Even today, you will probably have trouble accessing the Internet in Japan with your phone. So, Law number 3 needs to be modified:
Modified New Law No. 3: Do Definitely Go Into Rural Japan, Rent a Car if You Like, But Make Sure to Use Google Maps on a Mobile Phone That Can Connect to the Internet.
This will mean you need to rent a mobile wi-fi router. Just search for “wi-fi rental Japan” and you will find page after page listing rental services. Do this before you travel here!
Now, there is an even easier way to get around Laws No. 1 and 3: Go by taxi. On this site, you will find Googe Map links for every important listing, as well as the Japanese place names/business names, along with the English ones. Just show this to the taxi driver, and access the map to guide him if you need.
In summary, you should definitely break Law No. 3, but remember, even rural Japan is getting crowded these days. So here is another hint: Let’s say you want to travel to Gifu Prefecture, to experience authentic, rural Japan. Great choice! Now, Google for “travel in Gifu”, and you’ll find lots of established travel advice sites. Some list hundreds of comments and reviews of various sight-seeing spots.
Now, you are not going to be the first foreigner to visit those places. In fact, you’ll run into other foreign tourists all over the place, lining up to buy street food, endure the crowds in the souvenir shops. Who needs souvenirs anyway? If you truly want to experience authentic Japan, go somewhere not listed prominently in those guides. With the publishing of discovertajimi.com, you now have access to plenty of guidance in English to a place that is still not exploited by the tourism industry, yet accessible in terms of information. Explore this site, take your time. You can even explore the town in VR.
So, come to Tajimi, lose the crowds, break the Third Law of Tourism, and get lost! When you feel you need a helping hand, we’ll have you covered.
Unbelievable prices if you are not in a hurry
Travelling by night bus is the smart way to reach your destination on Japan's countryside if you want to spend your hard-earned money where you are going rather on the ticket that will take you there. It's hard to argue against the speed and convenience of travel with the Shinkansen - Japan's bullet trains. But it does come at a price and a rather steep one. Let's take an example:
We are going to Tajimi a pottery festival in central Japan from Tokyo. The route goes via Nagoya, a metropolis on Japan's East coast on Japan's main island, Honshu. Let's say we travel from Tokyo Station. We get on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen 08.30 AM, for example, and arrive 10.11 AM. It's a very smooth and pleasant ride, the super fast train swoosh through the landscape. You enjoy the comfortable seat and the ample leg space, as well as the incredible neatly dressed and friendly staff. But the ticket sets us back 11,500 yen (about USD 103 at the time of this writing, check a converter here for the equivalent in your currency). If you are travelling from Tokyo to Nagoya, as in this case, select Tokyo and Aichi (Nagoya) Prefecture, and do a search.
Now, if you are on a budget, consider that this will pay for two nights at a local hotel. Is it really worth it? Well, there is an alternative - night bus. The cheapest rate I have found so far is 1,800 yen (!) from Tokyo to Nagoya. There are English sites for bookings, like this one. You can choose between different comfort levels, so to speak - more space and better seats cost more - but even the cheapest fare will buy you a decent service. Recently I have gone for dirt cheap and have found the service to be OK. The point by going by night is that you will have lots of daytime to spend at your destination. For example, you could leave Tokyo at 10.50 and arrive in Nagoya 05.00 in the morning. Simply put, you spend your sleeping time moving.
The bus will stop a couple of times between Tokyo and Nagoya and you can get off and visit a highway rest area with public facilities, shops, toilets etc. Be sure to check which bus you got off, though, there may be a hundred or more in the parking lot and they all look very similar! Bring load your phone with music or an audio book, and time will pass surprisingly quickly.
The rest of the trip, from Nagoya to Tajimi, takes 37 minutes with a local train, and the fare is 670 yen. You could also go by bus directly to Tajimi, and that will cost a bit more about 4,000 yen, but saves you the trouble and time of changing at Nagoya. Still, you save significantly compared to the Shinkansen + local train cost.
Hint 1: Make sure to go to Kanayama Station when you travel to Nagoya by bus. Less crowded and simpler than Nagoya Station.
Hint 2: A great way to go to Tajimi from the Chubu International Airport is with bus to Kanayama and then take a local train from there.
Hint 3: More info on the cheapest tickets in upcoming post :-)
Shaved ice dessert served in DELUXE bowls
Over the summer you can savor a deluxe style kakigōri (a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener, often condensed milk) at the Tajimi Kakigōri shop in Ichinokura, in the hills above Tajimi city. The city is famous as the hottest town in Japan, and it's on those very warm days you really appreciate a large serving of kakigōri, which cools your body to a more pleasant temperature. In spite of record breaking temperatures, the heat in Tajimi feels a lot more bearable than in big cities like Tokyo, for example. This may have something to do with all the lush greenery, the water, and the natural environment. Still, a serving of kakigōri is always a welcome refreshment!
The Tajimi Kakigōri Shop (Map here) is adjacent to the company's small but very cozy ceramic shop and serves the cool dessert in fine ceramic bowls. This is a new concept since kakigōri is usually sold at street stands in the simplest possible fashion.
The shop is located up in the hills, a fairly long ride by car from Tajimi Station, but if you are interested in fine ceramics you can combine the kakigōri excursion with a visit to the adjacent ceramics shop, which is also a very pleasant experience with its fresh and modern wooden interior and fine selection.
A ceramics themed kakigōri experience
Water is served in a special kind of Tokkuri (Traditional Sake Serving Bottle) called "Uguisu Dokkuri", with a tiny bird - a Japanese bush warbler - on top that will chirp after you have poured the water into the cup. It's not a coincidence that fine porcelain is used. Marumo Takagi Touki Century, the company running the shop, is operating Japan's largest ceramics showroom a five minutes drive from the café. The showroom is for industrial buyers only, but individuals are welcome to visit the ceramics shop next doors to the kakigōri café. The shop, Utsuwa no Mise Takagi, is unmanned, so you will need to use the phone at the front to call for the staff.
Opening hours: The café is open until October 8, 11.00 - 17.00, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Location: See map here.