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Traveling Japanese pottery exhibition now in St. Petersburg


An exhibition of traditional Japanese pottery in the State City Sculpture Museum showcases more than a hundred unique clay tableware, both ancient and contemporary.

The exhibition demonstrates the secrets of Yakishime, a technique that has been used to make pots and other utensils for 800 years already. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Dmitry Aksenchik continues.

You can make pots wherever you can find clay and fuelwood. But it is only in Japan that potters fire the tableware they make for two weeks at a temperature over a thousand degrees Centigrade. This make clay extremely hard and waterproof. The Japanese name of the technique is Yakishime.

Anna Kovalevskaya, curator of the new exhibition hall of the City Sculpture Museum, explains: ‘After firing, clay utensils sound like metal when hit slightly.’

Most common clay was used in Yakishime, sometimes it contained so much sand and even stones it had to be shaped by hand, without a potter’s wheel.

Dmitry Aksenchik tells: ‘    The master would make most unsophisticated utensils from that dirty clay, often by hand. But in the process of firing, when ash got onto the clay, it formed natural patterns on it, so even the potter could not say what it was going to be like beforehand.’

Yakishime is mostly everyday tableware and tea utensils.

Natalya Burmistrova, head of a Japanese tea ceremony club, tells: ‘The Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetics is about simple beauty you discover in a thing when you start using it.’

Nowadays, the 800-year-old Yakishime technique is used to make art objects. 

Yasumasa Iijima, Consul General of Japan in St. Petersburg, says: ‘These are our traditional methods of production in Japan. Through this exposition you feel our life, feel the Japanese.’

The exhibition has been travelling for several years visiting North and South Americas. Now it came to St. Petersburg from Italy.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel