The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

Once covered in ancient times by the larger basin of nearby Lake Biwa, the land around Marubashira is rich in high-quality clay which has served them well over many centuries. The soil produces some of Japan’s most flavorful rice, but is also the source of material for Iga-yaki, a style of ceramics that is well known throughout Japan, but also has its closely kept secrets. The first kiln in the area was built way back in the 700s, but the style and purpose of the work has evolved over time.

The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

There are still dozens of ceramics producers in Marubashira, all with a fairly wide range of creative talent. Though the town is small and picturesque, it’s truly a place of production, not tourism, which makes it the perfect place to visit since its exudes authenticity and tradition. Just 15 minutes north of Iga-Ueno, it’s a great side trip after you’ve seen the famous Ueno Castle and had your fill of ninja history. That being said, unless you’re really a ceramics expert you’ll have a tough time spending a full day in Marubashira. Rather, it’s a perfect side-stop for a few hours to be able to see a true production town for ceramics in action, and since it’s only an hour away from the center of Kyoto, it’s not too far out of the way either.

The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

Any stop in Marubashira requires going to Nagatani-en, the largest producer in the town, and famous for their donabe pots, one of Japan’s oldest ways of cooking food and a staple of most households. A visit to Nagatani-en’s shop isn’t just to see their products, but their entire grounds which include an incredible thatched-roof house which is over 300 years old, their Edo Period climbing kilns, and a Taisho Period resting place, to have a coffee and see lots of their antiques from that time.

The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

You can also spend plenty of time walking or driving between the small studios and shops, though they’re open at unusual hours. For a full design experience, Gallery Yamahon has rotating exhibits and a very well-curated selection of products from all over the region, not just limited to ceramics. There’s also an attached coffee shop in a renovated warehouse that’s great for taking a break.

http://www.gallery-yamahon.com/

The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

Of course, one of the best times to visit Marubashira is during their annual ceramics festivals, the first occurs during the Golden Week holiday in May with over 20,000 visitors, and the second slightly smaller one is held at the end of September. People come from all over Japan to see ceramics from Marubashira and other production towns, so this is a great way to take in a lot of the craft and culture from this area all at once.

The Hidden Ceramics Town of Marubashira

Regardless of when you stop by, there’s always going to be something for you to see in this little town. It’s small and quiet, but with so much history in both production and artistry that you can easily spend half a day going from place to place and just taking it easy. Combined with the picturesque terraced rice fields in the spring and summer months, it’s an easygoing place that isn’t the least bit touristy, yet very open to visitors.

Facility Name
Igaueno
Address
Mie Pref. Igashi Mita
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Iga Ueno Castle
Address
Mie Pref. Igashi Uenomarunouchi 106
Phone
0595213148
Hours
9:00-17:00 (Admission is until 16:45)
Closed
12/29-31
Fees
Admission fee Adults 500 yen, Children 200 yen
Introduction
This castle is also called the Hakuho (white phoenix) castle as the white shining walls of this three-story castle look almost like a phoenix resting its wings. Distinguished castle designer Todo Takatora, who took up the position of feudal lord of Tsu Domain, Ise Province originally built a five-story castle keep but it was destroyed during a great storm in 1612. The current castle keep was restored in 1935. The beautiful stone walls with a height of 30 meters as well as the inner moat remain as they were at the time when Takatora designed them, and the castle was designated as a national historic site in 1967, while the castle keep was designated as an Iga City Tangible Cultural Property in 1985.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Iga Ware Pottery Nagatanien
Address
Mie Pref. Igashi Marubashira 569
Phone
0595441511
Hours
9:00-17:00
Closed
Buddhist vacation, New Year's Holiday
Parking Lot
Available(50spaces)
Credit Card
Available(VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMEX)
Introduction
Iga Ware Pottery Nagatanien is a well-established pottery which has carried on the culture and techniques of Iga Ware since opening in 1832. A climbing kiln with 16 continuous chambers operated until 1970s has been designated as a National Tangible Cultural Property. Taishokan built in the Taisho period (1912-1926) was actually used as an office until the 2000s. It preserves a phone and a safe from those days, and today opens as a place to rest where you can enjoy Taisho Roman (romantic vintage style).
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
gallery yamahon
Address
Mie Pref. Igashi Marubashira 1650
Phone
0595441911
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Igaueno

    Station
    Mie Pref. Igashi Mita
  • dummy image

    gallery yamahon

    Others (Interior/Furniture)
    Mie Pref. Igashi Marubashira 1650
  • Iga Ueno Castle image

    Iga Ueno Castle

    Others landmarked building
    Mie Pref. Igashi Uenomarunouchi 106
  • Iga Ware Pottery Nagatanien image

    Iga Ware Pottery Nagatanien

    Art museum
    Mie Pref. Igashi Marubashira 569
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