Harley Bosco is a senior majoring in Visual Arts and Creative Writing. She spent part of her summer in Tajimi, Japan studying pottery.
While most of us were sleeping in until 2 p.m. this summer, Harley Bosco rolled out of bed at five in the morning to learn about the process of making pottery in Tajimi, Japan. Her Sensei, Shibata, gave her encouragement and advice when throwing 500g clay cylinders. On the surface, this task may seem easy but it often presented Harley with what felt like an insurmountable and taxing challenge. Pottery is the cultivation of unrelenting patience. After hours of throwing 500g cylinders, Harley was given the opportunity to throw 1kg, only to revert back to 500g. The process of learning to throw clay is not linear and often focuses on the practice of pottery rather than the products.
Tajimi’s history is intertwined with potters, their pieces and their workspaces. The city is home to a rich history of invention including mino ware and oribe techniques. Throughout her time in Tajimi, Harley immersed herself in the process of making pottery in addition to introducing herself to the beauty of Tajimi: its landscape, people, and food.
After seven hour days at the wheel, Harley would venture through Tajimi in search of food. Her introductory level Japanese made each trip to the supermarket full of surprises. She would buy foods she’d never heard of and experiment in the kitchen at home to figure out how to cook the plastic-wrapped mystery.
Meal time at the studio provided a break from the solitude of interacting with clay. It is easy to get lost in the conversation between one’s hands and the clay. Potters would spend all morning at the wheel concentrating, taking in the texture of the clay and sounds from the radio. Eventually, the exhaustion from focusing so intently would spike and everyone would take a break to eat together, talk, laugh and drink tea before returning to isolation at the potter’s wheel.
Food as well as rest are essential components to making pottery. Harley believes “it is important to gain inspiration from your surroundings” during moments of calm. Tajimi, provides an abundance of beauty to draw inspiration from. Harley enjoyed Tajimi hospitality when her Sensei invited her and other students to dine at a ramen shop. Another student helped her understand the menu and they ended up ordering gyoza, karaage, ramen, and sake for the whole table. The stress of working toward perfect clay cylinders for hours on end evaporated after several rounds of food and drinks.
This summer Harley learned patience, the importance of rest, and where to find inspiration during her time in Tajimi. She climbed mountains in search of the Ei-ho Ji Temple, sipped sake with her peers, and pushed herself to try new tastes, sounds, and experiences.
Check out her blog clay not dirt and learn more about her adventures in Tajimi.