In Japan, ceramics have had a long tradition, and as such, it has developed a distinctively intricate and elegant beauty that the world has come to love. But ceramics and pottery are not just confined to the art world; beautifully produced plates, bowls and tea cups with high level of craftsmanship are also an integral part of everyday life.
So if you’re in need of a little refinement for your kitchen and dining table, you've come to the right city. Tokyo is home to a wealth of fine ceramic craftsmen, workshops and stores, which churn out gorgeous kitchen utensils and tableware to jazz up your living quarters. Take a peek here and you may discover some gems after browsing our favourite shops. They make for the most practical gifts and souvenirs, and you’ll be glad you’re taking home an authentic piece of Japan with you.
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After 21 years selling top-grade pottery in chic Minami-Aoyama, Kaede has firmly established itself as an essential destination for shoppers with an eye for quality. Its products range from lacquerware and ceramics to glassware, and come courtesy of about 40 artists.
Each regular contributor is asked to hold a solo exhibition at the store once every two years; these feature displays often include unique creations not found in the regular selection. Each special exhibition runs for six days, during which all the featured artist’s wares are the only thing available.
Kaede also places a premium on seasonality, exhibiting more glassware in summer and highlighting sake cups and lacquerware in winter. Credit cards are only accepted for purchases above ¥3,000, but with so much beauty on offer you’ll easily cross that threshold.
Despite its far-out location in Nerima, Pool+ is worth the trek. Alight at Fujimidai Station, walk through quiet residential streets for about 10 minutes and you’ll come across a lone, stylish structure. Inside, the minimalist décor puts the focus on the equally minimal-looking tableware.
Curated by the owner Seo, the selection here is composed of high-quality pottery and wooden tableware, all designed for daily use. Everything sold here reflects the owner’s taste for simple wares without superfluous decoration. It’s worth noting that Pool+ is cash-only and only ships to addresses in Japan.
With its sleek interior, Amahare fits right in among the posh speciality stores of Shirokane. Besides traditional tableware, its selection of about 600 items includes beautiful wooden, glass and ceramic wares, with prices ranging from a couple thousand to hundreds of thousands of yen.
You’ll enjoy browsing through a lineup this diverse – but go straight to the knowledgeable staff if you know what you want or are short on time. The room in the front functions as an exhibition zone highlighting a specific artist, while the space in the back houses the shop’s permanent (but seasonally changing) collection. The staff take great care to display items such as bowls, cups and chopsticks that go well with each other side by side, inviting you to give your own kitchen table a complete makeover.
Ceramic artist and pottery producer Yumiko Iihoshi’s retail outlet carries her eponymous brand’s entire line. Designed and crafted by Iihoshi herself before being reproduced at kilns across Japan, her pieces – existing, as she describes it, on ‘the border between handicrafts and commercial products’ – all maintain the highest quality and exude a warmth rarely found in mass-produced pottery. We also love how Iihoshi’s wares combine style and convenience – most of them can even be microwaved and are dishwasher safe.
Featuring modern masterpieces from Japan’s most renowned pottery regions – Arita, Kyoto and Ishikawa (aka Kutani) – plus vintage wares collected by the owner on her travels across the country, Gallery & Café Mikado is great for making new artistic discoveries over a cup of hot tea or coffee. While the vintage section was only added about a year ago, it’s already rather impressive – stacked with rarities and refilled as soon as space opens up. And there can be no doubting the craftsmanship: Mikado is frequented by the proprietors of Michelin- starred restaurants, who visit the shop to pick out new tableware for their discerning customers. Get a few plates here and you’ll find that even supermarket sashimi morphs into a top-grade delicacy on these wares – visually, at least.
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