Kiyomizuyaki no Sato Matsuri｜清水焼の郷まつり
The Kiyomizuyaki no Sato Matsuri is a large pottery festival showcasing goods from both local producers and those from all around the country, with a focus on the famous Kyoto ware known as Kyō-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki. Held annually on the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of October, this festival is an incredible chance to browse through dozens of shops and stalls, admire the goods, learn more about Japanese ceramics, and find great bargains that are not available anywhere else! Both hardcore pottery lovers and visitors just looking for original Kyoto souvenirs to take back home are bound to enjoy shopping at this market.
Specifics vary each year, but in addition to all the amazing pottery, Kiyomizuyaki no Sato Matsuri offers hands-on experiences where you can make your own clay figurine or try throwing an actual tea bowl on a potter’s wheel, and kids can enjoy themselves just playing around with clay. Visitors are also welcome to try local food like zenzai red bean soup with mochi rice cakes, relax and unwind with a cup of coffee to recharge for more shopping, and even listen to live performances!
The area where the festival is held, called Kiyomizuyaki-danchi, is a conglomerate of pottery makers, clay suppliers, wholesale traders, and artists, as well as woodworkers, doll-makers, and other craftsmen who moved here from their original locations on Gojō-zaka and Kiyomizu-zaka streets around Kiyomizu-dera temple, where the name Kiyomizu-yaki comes from.
Historically, potters in Kyoto focused on making limited numbers of the highest quality pieces rather than mass-producing cheap goods, reflecting the personal tastes and preferences of their customers. The pottery industry here saw explosive growth with the rising popularity of the tea ceremony among wealthy merchants since the Momoyama period, so tea bowls can probably be considered the starting point of Kyō-yaki pottery. Although it began with copying imported Chinese and Korean ware locally, it later turned to incorporating production and glazing methods from all over Japan in order to meet the demand for more variety from the numerous tea ceremony masters and their followers. Later on, the nobility, top government officials, feudal lords, and temples started using pottery purely as décor, too, and the need to fulfill the discerning orders of customers looking for luxury stimulated active information gathering, development of extraordinary designs, and use of a wide range of advanced production techniques.
One of the characteristic features of Kyō-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki, in addition to its variety of distinctive styles, is reproducing other arts in pottery form. Strolling between the stalls during the festival, you will find plenty of articles skillfully borrowing from the Rinpa school of art, paintings by Itō Jakuchū, Nishijin-ori weaving and yuzen-zome dyeing, maki-e lacquerware and so on, as well as works inspired by the lauded pottery masters of old like Nonomura Ninsei and Okuda Eisen. This time-honored approach naturally helps preserve the culture and traditions of the craft while adapting to the demands of the new era.
Just as they did for the last four hundred years, modern pottery makers in Kyoto still strive to satisfy the tastes of their customers while expressing their own artistic passion, and as you wander between the stalls and shops of the fair, you will meet both young artists and accomplished experts, including officially recognized Masters of Traditional Crafts, touting their ware to potential buyers. Whether you are looking for that perfect gift, a chic art object to decorate your home or office, a nice flower vase, or just some dishware for your everyday use, rest assured that at Kiyomizuyaki no Sato Matsuri you will find everything you need and more. The beauty of Kyoto pottery is so hard to resist!
Things to See/Do