Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Escape to Ehime

Travelling to another part of Japan was really tiring, but very fulfilling to say the least. From the Haneda airport in Tokyo, we flew for almost two hours and arrived in Ehime Prefecture, for a different type of immersion.

After a courtesy call at the Ehime Prefectural Government, we went straight to the ANA Hotel Matsuyama to relax

ANA Hotel Matsuyama
Courtesy of  ichotelsgroup.com

The following day, we were billeted to the Tobe-yaki Togeikan in Tobe town where a treasure of pottery awaited us. 

Taken at Tobe-yaki Togeikan in Tobe town

Beloved in its hometown of Tobe in Matsuyama City, Ehime prefecture, each piece of tobe-yaki pottery is tediously crafted for 42 hours or approximately 2 days! Although the process seems too much of a burden, tobeyaki potters have faithfully endured it to make sure that each piece passed the highest standards. 

Taken at Tobe-yaki Togeikan in Tobe town

According to Ms. Alyne Ogihashi, a Filipina potter, there are actually 11 steps involved in the making of Tobeyaki Pottery:

1.    Quarry the pottery stone.
2.    Turn the stone into clay at a clay factory.
3.    Massage the clay by machine to remove air.
4.    Cast clay on wheel called "Rokuro."
5.    Shear, clean and buff up the mold while its damp.
6.    Sun dry them.
7.    Bake them for 8 to 10 hours in a kiln (oven) at 900 to 950 degrees Celsius.
8.    Paint each ware by hand.
9.    Varnish. 

10.  For the last time, bake the wares for 15-24 hours in a kiln at 1,200 degrees Celsius.
11. Use red, green and blue hues on the wares, and bake for 7 to 8 hours in a kiln at 800 degrees Celsius.

For obvious reasons, we were allowed to execute step 8 only--painting on the baked ware. And as you can see we took this job very seriously.

Taken at Tobe-yaki Togeikan in Tobe town

Little did we know that our painted wares will be delivered to us in Osaka, during the last leg of our Japan sojourn! Sugoi, desu ne?

My Simple Sumi-e Set from JICA

After the trip, we were then dispersed to various Japanese host families to help us understand life as a local. For three days and two nights, these families generously accepted us into their homes and regarded us as their own.

With my foster family in Matsuyama City 

My foster family was no exception. "Thoughtful" wasn't enough to describe how amazing they were. In fact, they were so considerate that their first question was, "Do you want to see snow?" I laughed and said, "Hai." On my very first day as a house guest, we travelled to the nearby Kuma Ski Land-ski and Snow Board Gelande, just for the snow.

Taken @ the Kuma Ski Land-ski and Snow Board Gelande

I can still recall how excited I was when I first scooped a handful!

Taken @ the Kuma Ski Land-ski and Snow Board Gelande

To show my appreciation, I told them that I'll cook 2 kinds of sinigang for dinner:

Sinigang na Baka sa Sampalok (Tamarind) using this soup base mix...

and Sinigang na Baka sa Bayabas (Guava) while using this variant:
When we were at the grocery, I asked Ayapi, my foster mom, that the sinigang dish would taste much better if we added "patis" or fish sauce. We tried looking for it, but to no avail. So I decided to use sea salt instead which was the next best thing. When I've finally served the sinigang dishes, I've already expected that they would prefer the one cooked in guava. Most Japanese are not really fond of sour dishes. My hubby was right after all. 

Travel Directory:

Tobe-yaki Pottery Traditional Industrial Art Museum
335 Oominami, Tobe-Cho, Iyo-Gun
Phone: 089-962-6600   
Hours: 09:00 - 17:00; Mondays - Sundays 
Admission/ ¥300

Kuma Ski Land-ski and Snow Board Gelande
754-60 Otzu, Higashi-Myojin, Kumakogen-Cho, Kamiukena-Gun
Phone: 0892-21-0100
Season: Late November - March
Hours: 08:00 - 22:00 in December 
(until 24:00 on Wednesday & Saturday) 
08:00-24:00 from January - March
Open 7 days week


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