Pottery Town, Seto
By Yayoi Niwa. Posted on January 26, 2015
Did you know that just a 30-minute train ride from Sakae Station in Nagoya will take you to one of the most famous and time-honored pottery towns of Japan? That town’s name is Seto.
Did you know that the Japanese word for ceramics is “setomono?” That means “products of Seto.” Seto is the first place that produced glazed pottery in Japan, about 1,000 years ago.
You can see many unique things in Seto, such as a huge clay mine called “the Grand Canyon in Seto,” the ruins of an old climbing kiln, and a beautiful mosaic-pattern wall made with used tools for firing ceramics.
Also, you can enjoy seeing and shopping for various ceramic items sold at small shops in a traditional shopping arcade. Not only inside, but also outside the shops, there are many ceramic works exhibited, as the town itself is a museum.
Even the 17 bridges over the Seto River, which runs through the city, are decorated with ceramic works.
In the city center, there is the tutelary shrine of the city. The roof of the main worship hall is covered with green-glazed ceramic roof tiles called Oribeyaki. Another shrine in the same precinct enshrines the founder of Seto or pottery master, Toshiro Kato. He started producing pottery here in Seto in the 13th century.
A ceramic dog has been placed at the worship hall.
A legend has it that when Toshiro came to Seto on his journey to find suitable clay for producing pottery, he had a dream one night. A dog appeared and told him to dig in a spot in the southeast of the city. He followed the dog’s advice and found high quality clay there. Then he decided to stay here and started producing pottery. In order to show his appreciation, he made a statue of the dog he dreamt about and dedicated it to the shrine. The dog’s statue is designed just like like the one Toshiro made. There are many small votive statues shaped like dogs. You can buy a pair of them as a donation to the shrine. You write your wish on two pieces of papers. Each piece of paper is placed inside a statue; you leave one statue in the shrine and keep the other one with you. Then your wish will come true.
Access to Seto:
Take Meitetsu Seto line from Sakaemachi Station next to Oasis 21, underground. 31 minutes by express train, 38 minutes by local train. Both 450 yen one-way.
Niwa is born in Nagoya and lives in Seto now.
She loves travelling, so she made it her job. Now she works as a national-licensed English speaking tour guide.
She finds Chubu region blessed with the untouched wild nature, and calm and humble genuine Japanese life still going.
Countless places to explore!