entrusting to fire
: Seven years has passed since the accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant.
: The studio of Mr. Manabu Kondo, a pottery maker was still in the exclusion zone of Fukushima. : Mr. Kondo inherits Toukichirou's kiln, one of the potteries of the Obori-soma style which has the history of over 300 years.
: He established his new studio in Iwaki city, Fukushima in April, 2018 after he moved away from the place he has cultivated the tradition.
: The 9th generation of Toukichirou kiln. Mr. Manabu Kondo
Manabu : It was very difficult to leave the place I have grown up, but the more difficult thing was the situation I was placed. I had to continue my business and wanted to make my works, but it was impossible even if I did want to do it . The only way was that I had to continue my works as possible in the given situation.
: Mr. Takashi Kondo, Mr.Manabu's son and also a pottery maker has evacuated as well and established the studio together.
: The 10th generation of Toukichirou kiln. Mr. Takashi Kondo
Takashi : My feeling is very important for making good works. I had difficulties with motivating myself since I have left my town after the disaster.
: Yotsukura town, Iwaki city, Fukushima
: a month before reopening Kondo's gallery
Manabu : Fortunately, I could settle down near the sea. The flow, wave of ocean. Sometimes you can see the ruffle in the mild wave. A lot of motifs of the design of potteries come from scenery of nature. Our daily lives and environments make a lot of meanings. I have liked birds since childhood. The birds were always around me in the garden at my house. Sometimes I saw some young owls hatching near my house...
Takashi: The idea of the works I make for the exhibitions usually come from the scene of nature, such as moves of the wind, flow of atmosphere, stream and a motion of water,..
: preparing to burn In the Edo era, Heikichi Kondo, their ancestor founded pottery studio in Edo city (current Tokyo) after he has trained hand-molded style earthenware in Kyoto.
Manabu: My ancestor, Heikichi Kondo, was a pottery maker. He moved to Aizu clan from Edo because he was invited by lord of Aizu clan as a pottery trainer, then he moved to Miharu clan. Toukichirou, Heikichi's son lived in Ohbori district in Soma clan because he was employed by Soma clan directly as pottery maker. For decades, since Toukichirou had founded his kiln in Ohbori district in Namie town, we have made Obori-soma wares until the disaster struck the area in 2011.
According to the old documents, Tokichirou improved the style of Obori-soma wares because he has inherited and kept Kyoto-style ware taught by his father.
Manabu: I did not have motivation with making pottery before. Doing this work wasn't my option at all until I graduated from the university. I should have chosen either being a white-collar person or working as pottery maker. Working in the office like the others was absolutely not my choice. So it meant that I should have become a pottery maker. I changed my mind, I thought being a pottery maker should be the best job. I decided to go back home by myself to be a professional pottery maker. That was when I could make works. I got into this job, feeling that I wanted to make potteries with better quality and more different styles. The more I made potteries, the more I tried to make better ones. Well, at a time, I found that I loved making potteries. We entrust our potteries to fire at the end when we make them. This is very hard for creators but it makes them more attractive.
Takashi: I've wanted to make potteries since childhood. Seeing my father working on making potteries was very interesting, I think. I just wanted to make potteries, not as a professional who inherit Soma style and tradition. I only wanted to create them.
:removing pots from kiln
Manabu: What is the Obori-soma ware? People think it a doubled structure with blue cracks and paints of horse though, old Soma style is actually different. For example, this glaze is made with Soma ware older than blue crack glaze. This glaze is the same style as a standard Soma style pottery which has doubled structure and blue cracks. Is the half of the bottom of it black? It is. This is an arrangement. I mean that this technique is not a new technique. It is completely a traditional technique. I do think inheriting tradition is reproducing old ones and arranging them for people who would like to use them. So, I want to recreate the blue crack pottery with a slightly new style. Therefore I have tons of raw materials of blue crack glazes at my house.
:Toyama stone, raw materials of blue crack glaze can not be transported anymore due to the radioactive pollution. They were used to be mined in Namie town and be used to make blue crack glaze at local kilns. If I could use the blue crack glazes, I would arrange them with modern style potteries.
Our ancestor came from the Edo(Tokyo). I think it important to continue our works at new place in my generation. Our ancestor moved to a different place too, though it was due to the different situation as ours. I have to do my works.
Takashi: We have to reconsider the existence of Obori-soma style after the earthquakes has hit its home. . My works may be not Obori-soma style, however they may become new Obori-soma style after time goes on. The most important thing is to continue the works. It will become a tradition of Toukichirou kiln and Obori-soma style, hopefully.