Buying trip to Japan from April 3rd to 23rd. Any orders during this period will be sent out after April 24th. Thank you for your understanding!

A Journey to the Ocean Town of Amakusa - Moriyama Kiln

 

Memory from visiting the Moriyama kiln. I bought his plates and bowls almost 10 years ago - way before I started my small business. Ever since, Itaru has been on my list to stock at Yoka in my head - A dream to share the beauty and heritage of Kumamoto’s craftsmanship with the world.

Amakusa in Kumamoto, Japan, has a special place in my heart as this lovely coastal town where I spent many summers as a kid. It's known for its beautiful landscapes, delicious seafood, and the wonderful traditional Amakusa ceramics.

Amakusa has a rich land abundant in natural resources for porcelain. The fact is, not many know that the Amakusa region in Kumamoto Prefecture is Japan's top producer of pottery stone!

During my first visit to Itaru in 2021, it was May, the season of Children's Day (May 5th). I recall seeing numerous koi-fish flags adorning the streets.

 

Itaru Moriyama, a young ceramist, established his own kiln following nine years of experience at a renowned ceramic company in the Amakusa region. During his this period, he crafted 200-250 plates and bowls daily. Towards the end of his time with the company, he could effortlessly create over 200 identical pieces with his eyes closed. Everyday felt like 5 mins and that was the time he thought he wanted to start his own kiln and create what he truly wanted.

His creations blend iron and local soils, drawing inspiration from the natural beauty of his surroundings in Amakusa - The peaceful ocean, sandy beaches, seashells gathered with his children, and the beautiful plants all around him.

Itaru's strong commitment aligns with what I aim for at Yoka - to honor and promote the art and tradition that represents our homeland.

 

Itaru and his wife, Hitoe, were the first ones who trusted me in this town. When I made the decision to launch my business, I began by visiting all the artisans I wanted to collaborate with. At that time, I didn't even have a business card or a website launched yet. I shared my passion for showcasing the great products from my hometown of Kumamoto and preserving our traditions for the long run.

I mentioned how I've cherished Itaru's works for years and how I've always wanted to carry his creations. Itaru was pleasantly surprised that I had his very first works from the beginning of his career. Itaru and Hitoe showed trust and enthusiasm in supporting my journey with Yoka, my small business. Their encouragement helped me launch Yoka back in 2021.

Itaru's glaze has a unique texture... I had to ask what the secret was. Itaru shared with me that he uses calcium powder from the local ocean, a special ingredient passed on by his seasalt craftsman buddy. In the sea salt making process, they extract this calcium powder after evaporating the ocean water. His friend Ryota carefully collects the powder from inside the big pot and brings it over in a bucket. Everything sourced locally, creating a true piece of Amakusa!

During my visit to his studio, Itaru kindly showed me his creative process by spinning the wheel. The moment was truly magical and peaceful. Every time I go back to Itaru's studio, he reveals his newest creations. 

The visits are not just about admiring the products but also about the delightful conversations and shared meals that add to the story of my business journey.

  

I hope you will bring a piece of Amakusa home with you.!