Aichi Museums: Seto-Gura Museum, Seto, Aichi
Seto-gura Museum 瀬戸蔵ミュージアム
The Seto-gura Museum is on the second floor of the Seto-gura complex - a shopping and entertainment center, just across the river from Owari-Seto Station on the Meitetsu Line.
The building is constructed over what once was the Okurakaisho - an Edo Period office of the Owari clan that supervised the sale and distribution of the town's ceramics.
Seto city is one of Japan's most historic centers of pottery-making and ceramics with production going back to at least the 10th century and even before in the nearby hills of Sanage.
Seto's defining association with ceramics is such that a generic name for pottery in Japanese is setomono (瀬戸物; "setoware").
Japan's first glazed ware (koseto) - originally made for Buddhist artifacts - was also produced in Seto in the latter half of the 10th century.
From the 16th century on, Seto began to make pottery for the tea ceremony including tea bowls and cups. Mass production of household items and kitchenware began during the Edo Period with the encouragement and financial backing of the ruling Owari clan.
From the Meiji Period on into the 20th century, Seto's mass production of ceramics increased for both domestic and international consumption with new products, such as decorative items and industrial appliances, developed for the export market. These new commodities included toilet bowls, wash basins, insulators and novelty items.
Seto-gura Museum Exhibits
After first entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a reproduction of the original Owari-Seto Station and a tram that once ran on the city's streets from 1965-1973. By and large, though, the rest of the museum is dedicated to ceramics and pottery from ancient pottery shards to modern automation. Explanation is mainly in Japanese with some English making the museum easily understandable for foreign visitors.
The second floor has an interesting guide to the entire production process of pottery-making, along with working machinery and a coal-fired kiln involved in the multi-stage procedure. Videos help to explain the various stages involved in the production of ceramics.
There are glass-case displays of over 2,000 pieces of representative and rare pottery from the Heian Period to the present day on the third floor with an emphasis on standout pieces produced in Seto including large Chinese-style vases and novelty pieces.
The Seto-gura Museum also includes a book and video library with books and videos available to view related to the ceramic industry in the town.
Books on ceramics are also on sale at the reception area.
1-1 Kurashocho, Seto 489-0813 Aichi Prefecture
Tel: 0561 97 1190
Admission: 500 yen for adults; 300 yen for high school and university students; free for junior high school and younger aged children
Hours: 9am-6pm; closed over the New Year public holiday.
Access - how to get to the Seto-gura Museum
The Seto-gura Museum is 5 minutes on foot from Owari-Seto Station on the Meitetsu Seto Line from Sakae-machi in Sakae and Ozone stations. Nearby are the Seto Ceramics and Glass Art Center as well as the Maneki-neko Museum.
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