Tea Wares Browsing in Tokoname City , Aichi Prefecture and home of Banko-yaki, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture:
For those landing in Chubu Airport, Nagoya, and have some time - between half a day to one full day - to spare, Tokoname City would be a nice place to spend some time in if ceramic wares are of interest.
They have a strolling path through the old quarter of ceramic production; small paths weaving through old buildings, small galleries and residences, with chimney stacks dotting the hillside, and an old climbing kiln
(noborigama) being the highlight of the stroll. While many shops sell mass-produced ceramic items, a few small galleries specialise in Tokoname artisan wares, with some focusing on the famed Tokoname Kyusus.
The Maneki-Neko Street where artisan-made (some non-Japanese) Maneki-Neko of all shapes and styles were mounted on a concrete slope is worth a visit. Adorable and fun!
There is also a Ceramic Mall located a bit away from the city centre where many Tokoname wares, from flower pots, tableware to Kyusus can be found. This Ceramic Mall is a curious mix of retail shops and office-cum-warehouse space. Good for a one-stop shopping excursion.
While not on the same level as other more famous tourist areas in Japan, Tokonama City is a lovely place for those looking for artisan-made Kyusus and a simple stroll through winding paths which might end in a beautiful garden and cozy gallery.
On the other end, Yokkaichi City might not be worth the visit for short-term tourists, unless you have arranged a visit with one of the artisan kilns there, or planning to get a few Banko-yaki Kyusus as gifts/souvenirs or personal use.
Reflecting its industrial base, there is not much tourist attraction sites in Yokkaichi related to pottery aside from the Banko-Yaki-No-Sato ceramic centre a station away from the main Yokkaichi train station.
The ceramic centre itself is minimalist and slightly provincial, showcasing mainly commercial Banko wares, with only a few artisan made purple clay Kyusus here and there. The only major plus point I could think of is the fact that they give a 20% discount on items sold there.
(They have a sister centre in Yokkaichi City proper which doesn't have the same discount).
All in all, it has been a lovely trip to two well-known Kyusu production areas in Japan. One I am hoping to repeat again in the not-far-off future. Peace.