Press Tour (No.081)

9 media persons from 9 companies (Newspaper, TV, Radio, News agency, Magazine) of 5 countries/regions participated.

■Report about the Tour



≪Tour Theme≫

“Learning New things from the Past”—Traditional techniques utilized in present days


 Foreign Correspondents’ Press Tour (Sep.20-21, 2012)

Organized by the Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion 

With cooperation of Kyoto Pref. and Shiga Pref. Govts.




KYOTO西陣織帯(小)CIMG3133 2.JPG

■ Nishijin brocade (Nishijin-ori)

- Briefing on Nishijin brocade (present situation, new efforts, etc.)

-Nostalgic sound of weaving—Demonstration and interview with a weaver





■ Development of professional craftsmen and manufacturers! TASK

仏像彫刻(小)DSC_4951.jpg-Japan’s first and only school for learning traditional crafts










Welcome to Shiga!

- Interview with Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada

- Cruising on Japan’s largest lake, “Biwako”






■ Shigaraki ware (Shigaraki-yaki)


- Briefing on Shigaraki ware

 The present situation, new efforts such as “Art Brut”


- Shigaraki Pottery Path

 Scenery of paths with an ancient atmosphere and climbing kilns


- Visiting potteries

 Search for “tradition” and “new attractiveness” in the production site!


- Interview with a German resident artist

 The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park “Artist in Residence Program”




*Please refer to "The Highlights of the Tour" for the details of each topic,

and "Report about the Tour" for results after the tour. 


Tour Date Sep 20(Thu) - Sep 21(Fri),2012
Qualification Bearer of Press ID issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tour Fee please refer to the attached application form (require ID and Password)
Organized by

The Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion

Osaka Nakanoshima Building 7F,
2-2-2 Nakanoshima Kitaku, Osaka City 

Cooperated by Kyoto Prefecture, Shiga Prefecture, Koka City
Capacity 15 reporters (1 reporter from each company, 2 for a TV company - 2 TV companies max for this tour)
Closing date/time for Application Aug 29(Wed),2012 05:00 PM
■Applications will be accepted on this page by the time of the above-mentioned deadline, but please note that if the number of applicants has reached the prescribed number before your application, your name will be put on a waiting list for cancellation.

■The Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion, in cooperation with local municipalities, organizes this press tour with a goal of disseminating information from Kansai directly to the world through the participants' articles based on press activities during the tour. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

■The organizer may set an upper limit on the number of participants from each country/region and may decide participants in view of their past records based on the press tours if the reporters joined in the past, when it receives oversubscribed applications.

■The organizer shall bear no responsibility whatsoever for any accidents or inconveniences that may arise during a press tour. The itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions or other circumstances.

The Highlights of the Tour




■Nishijin brocade (Nishijin-ori)


   手織実演(小)20120709_161445.jpgNishijin brocade, woven and patterned fabrics made from dyed yarn, is widely known around the world as one of the traditional handicrafts that symbolizes Japan, especially Kyoto. This tour will visit the Nishijin Textile Center, where we will hear about the present circumstances of Nishijin brocade, and take photos of the work of reeling silk from cocoons, a demonstration of hand weaving by a traditional craftsman and a beautiful kimono show.



   The initiation of textile-making in Kyoto dates back to the 5th century. Textile-making was developed along with promotion of making high-quality textiles for the Court after the relocation of the capital of Japan to Heian-kyo (the heart of present-day Kyoto.) After that, ceremonial textiles for shrines and temples began to be made.


   In the Muromachi period, when the town of Kyoto was burnt to the ground in the Ohnin Civil War, local textile craftsmen temporarily dispersed into areas in the southern part of Osaka and other places. However, after the war ended, they returned to Kyoto and resumed textile making. One group of those craftsmen resumed textile making in the position (jin) used by the West (Nishi) troop during the war, which is why the area came to be called “Nishijin” and the textiles made in the area are called “Nishijin-ori.”


<< Characteristics of the textile industry>>

  きものショー(小).jpg Many preparatory processes preceding the actual weaving are all done through the division of work. In the textile industry, designers, mon (family crest) engravers, yarn twisters, and yarn dyers work together with weavers. Also, the industry is run on the basis of small lots of many varieties. Since high designability and rich expressiveness are required of their fabrics, Nishijin weavers always work towards that purpose. This is also the reason that the Nishijin textile industry is called the “knowledge industry.”

(Reference data: The shipment of Nishijin brocade in 2010: more than 80 billion yen, No. of manufacturers: approx. 460)

●Nishijin Textile Center URL 



■ Development of professional craftsmen and manufacturers! TASK


 仏像彫刻(小)DSC_4951.jpg In the thousand-year capital, Kyoto, traditional crafts are alive which give Japan a high reputation around the world. However, these techniques have so far been handed down only through an apprenticeship system. With the serious decreasing birthrate & aging population, diversification of lifestyles, and globalization, it has been a long time since the succession of Japan’s traditional manufacturing techniques came to be threatened.




   木彫刻(小)DSC_9919.jpgTASK-Traditional Arts Super College of Kyoto (opened in 1995) is Japan’s first and only special training college designed to develop professionals in craftworks and manufacturing. Working together, the national government, the Kyoto pref. government, and the traditional craft world of Kyoto have created an environment where students can learn authentic traditional craftsmanship in a systematic curriculum.


   Students learn the type of craftsmanship they want during their 2-4 year term of study from nine majors in total, including ceramics, Buddha engraving, lacquer craft, and metal craft, in order to become professionals. Active masters of traditional crafts in Kyoto associate their names with this college and convey exquisite craftsmanship and beautiful designs to students.


   陶芸01.jpgThis tour will visit TASK (Sonobe, Nantan City) and the Gallery of Kyoto Traditional Arts and Crafts (Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City). We will have an interview with Director Hidekazu Shintani, and visit the trainings for first-year students of the college. Furthermore, the tour is scheduled to interview two students from Bhutan who came to Kyoto in order to learn Japanese manufacturing skills. Their stay in Japan was arranged in November 2011, when His Majesty the King of Bhutan visited the Gallery of Kyoto Traditional Arts and Crafts, an affiliated facility of TASK, during his stay in Japan, and was moved by Japanese craftworks and manufacturing. The two Bhutanese students are now learning metal craft and woodcarving, respectively.



<< Seated Wooden Statue of Dainichi Nyorai Project>>

  ≪複合≫流木松と大日如来坐像.JPGThe Great East Japan Earthquake left great destruction. In Takata-matsubara in Rikuzen Takata, Iwate Pref., all of more than 70,000 pine trees except for one were washed away by the tsunami.


   Seeing the devastation, a professor and students of the Buddha engraving course of TASK wondered if there was anything they could do. Around the same time, TASK received a request from the World Heritage site Kiyomizu Temple to create a seated wooded statue of Dainichi Nyorai. They decided to carve the statue of Dainichi Nyorai from the driftwood of the pine trees from Takata-matsubara, and called for the “One-chisel, One-carve” plan. This plan was intended to be joined by the earthquake victims in Tohoku in order to include in this statue everyone’s wish for the repose of victims’ souls and for the recovery of the damaged areas. More than 10,000 people participated in all the related events. The statue was completed in December 2011, through the joint work of students, victims and people who prayed for recovery. After exhibitions at several places, the statue was dedicated in May this year to Kiyomizu Temple.











■ Interview with Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada


   サイズ(小)知事【最新】1109.jpgYukiko Kada is a former research advisor of the Lake Biwa Museum and a university professor. In 2006, based on a manifesto with the slogan “Mottainai” (wasteful), that proposed to freeze the construction of a new Shinkansen station, and the planned construction of dams and an industrial waste plant in the prefecture, she ran for and was elected to her first term as the governor of Shiga. She steadily carried out her campaign promises while continuing to work towards the environmental preservation of Lake Biwa and the surrounding area, using her expertise and experiences as an environmental sociologist and a cultural anthropologist. In the election of July 2010, she was reelected for her second term, using “Mottainai Plus” as her slogan.


    Her recent books include “Man and nature around the water” (2003), and “What a governor can do” (2012).

   This tour will feature an interview with Governor Kada on the Biwako cruise ship “Megumi,” where we will ask her about the latest situations related to Shiga and Lake Biwa, as well as her environmental preservation efforts. 

●Shiga Pref. URL 



■ Shigaraki ware (Shigaraki-yaki) 


   ≪複合≫表紙用信楽焼イメージ.JPGShigaraki ware, one of the “Six Old Kilns of Japan (*),” has warm earthen texture. Although a strong image of large items is attached to Shigaraki ware, such as raccoon dog figures, braziers, and tea urns, many popular items with a high-grade sense including table ware and interior decorations, etc are also produced. However, affected by diversification of lifestyles, and low-cost import items, the production of Shigaraki ware was at a peak of 16.8 billion yen in 1992, and declined to 4.6 billion yen in 2009.

    In this situation, local potteries and related people were stimulated to solve the present problems by bringing in new life to the traditional industry, and are not only developing products more suitable for modern lifestyles, cultivating overseas markets, and opening ateliers to the public, but also using traditional Shigaraki techniques to solve various problems of modern society.


   Meanwhile, Japan’s Art Brut has attracted world-wide attention in recent years. Shiga, a pioneer prefecture in promoting Art Brut in Japan, has conveyed the attractiveness of the art in ways unique to Shiga. One element of the effort is Shigaraki ware. Potters, who have not received specialized education in arts, have created their works expressing candid urges welling up from inside them.


   This tour will visit Shigaraki-cho, Koka City of Shiga, a “town of pottery” with a long history and tradition. We will walk the “Shigaraki Pottery Paths,” with old climbing kilns and chimneys. Feeling a unique atmosphere, we will visit potteries, visit the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, and search for “tradition” and “new attractiveness” of Shigaraki ware.

 (*)Bizen ware, Tamba ware, Echizen ware, Seto ware, Tokoname ware, Shigaraki ware




<< Shigaraki Pottery Walking Paths>>

   ≪複合≫散策路無題.JPGThe Nagano district in Shigaraki-cho has many types of scenery unique to a historic “town of pottery.” The scenery that the residents take for granted is extraordinary sights for visitors. The Circle of Shigaraki Pottery Paths, a local pottery group, has widely advertised “Shigaraki Pottery Paths”, and has opened pottery ateliers to the public in order to allow visitors to feel closer to Shigaraki ware.




<< Tanikangama Co. / Houzan Tanii>>


○ Main Products:

Japanese table ware, flower vases, tea utensils, etc.

○ Highlights:

The atelier was established in a relocated school from the Meiji period. At the “Gallery Tou Houzan,” which reuses old heavy oil kiln, original works are exhibited and sold. With the works of modern artists fitting into a nostalgic atmosphere, a comfortable space has been created. This tour will visit the gallery and traditional cellar kiln, still used there, and which have become invaluable asset.

●Tanikangama Co. URL




<<Marushi Seitou Co. / Tomokazu Imai>>

丸滋傘立て0000001372.jpg○ Products:

Hand-washing basins, umbrella stands, garden tables, etc.

○ Highlights:

Inheriting the tradition, this pottery proposes and produces Shigaraki ware based on simple shapes, suitable for modern lifestyles. With the frequent media exposure, especially popular items are stylish hand-washing basins, and a “stand for one umbrella,” which is designed to display your favorite umbrella. 048-1.jpgThis tour visit showroom and kiln-equipped pottery workshop (gas-fired kiln).

●Marushi Seitou Co. URL





<<Eizangama / Eizan Okuda>>

○ Products:

Teaware, flower vases, etc.

≪複合≫英山窯.JPG○ Highlights:

Eizan Okuda (photo), a traditional craftsman and a leader of Urasenke's tea ceremony, creates tea bowls and flower vases suitable for tea ceremonies. This tour will conduct close reporting on the “elaborate craftsmanship” of Eizan at his atelier. Also, we will have matcha green tea served in Eizan’s work and listen to his talk.

●Eizangama URL



<<The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park>>

   ≪複合≫陶芸の森.JPGThis is a facility widely used as a center for creative activities by young artists from both Japan and overseas, as well as for displaying Shigaraki works.

   This tour will visit the facility as the finale of the visit to Shigaraki. In the “Artist in Residence Program,” designed to receive resident artists from both Japan and overseas in order to develop potters, we will have an interview with a German resident artist who is currently staying there, and will be briefed on new approaches in Shigaraki (transparent pottery, called “Shigaraki Transparent Ware”, Art Brut, etc.)

    Furthermore, we will have interviews with representatives from related groups, including the Shigaraki Ceramic Research Institute. 

●Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park URL











Sep 20(Thu)

11:30 Meet at Shinkansen Kyoto Sta.
(Please finish your lunch before the start of the tour)

PM/ Kyoto (Nishijin-ori⇒TASK)

Evening/ Stay & Reception (Kyoto City)

Sep 21(Fri)

8:00 Leave the hotel

AM/ Shiga-Lake Biwa Cruise and interview with governor

PM/ Shiga-Shigaraki

19:40 End of tour at Shinkansen Kyoto Sta. 
(past 22:00 in Tokyo)

Report about the Tour

Number of Participants 9 reporters
(5 countries/regions 9companies)
Media Newspaper , TV, Radio , News agency , Magazine


Day 1 Sep.20 (Thurs.)    


■Nishijin Textile (Nishijin Textile Center)

西陣取材結果.JPG -Briefing on Nishijin Region/Nishijin Textile and Q/A

 -Shooting/Photo-taking of hand-weaving, Zakuri (making raw silk string from cocoon) and Kimono Show


 Mr. Toshimitsu IKARIYAMA, Senior Managing Director of Nishijin Textile Industrial Association, briefed on Nishijin Textile.


 He explained the characteristics of Nishijin such as the division of works; preparatory processes preceding the actual weaving are all done through the division of work and various craftsperson worked together with weavers in Nishijin area. He emphasized that Kyoto/Nishijin is the world’s best production site of woven fabric made of silk and the product, Nishijin Textile, is the world’s best woven fabric.

 Also he introduced the accumulated weaving skills in Nishijin area have been widely applied in such fields like space, architecture and medicine etc. expressing his future expectations.


 After the briefing and Q&A session with Mr. Ikariyama, correspondents met Ms. Hiroko Fujiwara, a traditional craftsman of hand weaving of Nishijin textile and shot her works.

 They took photos of the artisan skills of weaving numerous beautifully died yarn up-close.


<The followings are the examples of questions from correspondents>

・Future prospects of Nishijin textile industry

・Visitors to Nishijin Textile Center (break down of the numbers)

・The number of craftsperson in Nishijin



■Traditional Arts Super College Kyoto (TASK) Part 1: School Visit


  -Introduction/Briefing on the School

  -Shootings of Practical Trainings (Japanese Lacquer Craft, Buddha Engraving, Metal Craft, Bamboo  Craft, Ceramics)        

  -Interview with the president/Professors/Students


■TASK Part2: Gallery Visit

  -Demonstration by graduates (Buddha engraving, Wood carving, Painting on ceramics)

  -Photo taking of arts/crafts made by TASK students to commemorate their graduation



 At the start of the press program, Director Hidekazu Shintani briefed on the school. He explained that he 18 years ago decided to open TASK, a special training college to develop professionals of traditional crafts accepting the request from the central and regional governments that had a sense of crisis of succeeding traditional manufacturing skills that so far had been handed down only through apprenticeship system.



 He also shared his difficulties he encountered in making the challenge that defied the common wisdom of the industry in those days.

 The Director introduced correspondents proudly the high employment rate of the graduates (more than 93%) and interactions with national art organizations of France as well as the Seated Wooden Statue of Dainichi Nyorai Project using pine trees washed away by tsunami tidal waves after the Great East Japan Earthquake.  


 After the briefing and introduction, the group of correspondents visited each class room of Japanese Lacquer Craft,

Buddha Engraving, Metal Craft, Bamboo Craft, and Ceramics to observe their practical trainings taking photos and interviews with students.


  In the roundup Q&A session, they met 2 students from Bhutan and other students as well as professors and asked a wide range of questions to them.



Correspondents’ questions include

・Any training course for working people

・How to teach the heart of masters

・Future dream


・Tuition fee

・Any financial assistance from the central government



Day 2 Sep.21 (Fri.)  


■Interview with Governor of SHIGA & Lake Biwa Cruise


 This press tour started its activities on the 2nd day in Shiga with the Lake Biwa cruising on boat “megumi” and the interview with Governor under bright and clear sky.


 Governor Kada made presentation on Shiga and emphasized beautiful scenery, delicious foods, and environmental education for children of the prefecture.

 Also, she explained with lots of photos about the Lake Biwa, one of the oldest lakes in the world, the prefecture’s experience of red tide of the fresh water and the regulations based on the experience to prevent eutrophication, the “mother lake” project, and the scenery of “kabata” spring in Takashima city, west part of the prefecture.


 In the Q&A session following the presentation, correspondents asked a wide variety questions ranging from how to apply Shiga’s experiences for developing nations to governor’s stance on the restarting of Ohi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui adjacent to Shiga and Doshusei regional system etc.

The Governor answered each questions explicitly with carefully chosen words.





■Shigaraki Ceramic

信楽取材結果2.JPG-Introduction/Briefing on Shigaraki Ceramic @Traditional Industry Center

-Visit Kiln (studio)  Tanikan-gama⇒“Climbing Kiln”⇒Marushi Seito⇒Eizan-gama 

-Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park(Shooting/Photo-taking of Exhibition hall, Briefing on Artist in Residence Program & shooting, Q&A etc)


 At the outset of the activities in Shigaraki, Koka City, the tour visited Shigaraki Traditional Industry Center and met Director Toshiaki Okuda to be briefed on Shigaraki Cramics; its history and characteristics etc.


 Then the tour walked Shigaraki Pottery Paths enjoying the ancient atmosphere and sceneries special to the town of ceramic and visited 3 kilns; Tanikan-gama, Marushi-Seito and Eizan-gama.



 陶芸の森取材結果.JPGAs a roundup of the visit to Shigaraki, then, the tour visited Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in the late afternoon. Mr. Yuji Kawaguchi, Director, and Ms. Hiroko Miura, Curator of the facility introduced its activities. Mr. Michio Sugiyama, Section Chief of the Artist in Residency Program, explained the program details and introduced two foreign artists from USA and Germany staying in Shigaraki at present.



 Also the tour covered efforts of the local parties including Mr. Masuo Ueda, President of Shigaraki Ceramic Wholesalers’ Association, Mr. Kohzo Ohara, Director of Shigaraki Ceramic Manufacturers’ Coop., and Mr. Masami Yokoigawa, Director of Shigaraki Ceramic Research Institute.

  They explained their efforts to develop new type of Shigaraki wares that fit modern lives and translucent Shigaraki wares, and explore new business opportunities abroad etc.


 Correspondents showed their interests in foreign artists’ activities at the facility, the translucent Shigaraki wares, the difference between Ana-gama traditional kiln and climbing kiln, and the number of manufacturers and potters in Shigaraki etc.