On our last day in Kansai, we sadly said goodbye to our new favorite neighborhood of Naramachi and our amazing hosts, Akie-san and Akira-san, at Kamunabi Guest House. We loved our stay there and the easy conversations and camaraderie we had in the front cafe over drinks after a day exploring Nara.
But we were also excited to head out to visit Kiyooka Kodo, one of our original artist friends and the man known in some circles as “The Frying Pan Man”. We took the train to Shiga outside of Kyoto, and Kodo-san met us there. We took off on an yet another of our interesting rides up the hills and mountains of Japan where the roads are barely wide enough for one car, let alone two. It was like being in the backseat of a movie, while Ria and Kiyooka chatted in the front seat. I was amazed at the skill of his driving -- a stick shift, of course -- while calmly talking and pulling over to let delivery trucks pass by with what seemed like millimeters to spare, while I gazed at the ever-receding, but gorgeous countryside below.
We’ve known Kodo-san since early in the Japan Suite days. We had just started presenting his creations when the Huffington Post picked up on the story. We remain surprised (and pleased) at the response from the article, so we were really geeked to go see him at his new studio in the hills of Shiga. We were not disappointed. The only regret was that we wished we could spend more time with him there -- but alas, we had a train to catch back to Tokyo.
Kodo-san was a gracious host, full of knowledge, giving us free run of the place and describing all of the processes and different work that he is doing. He now has a much larger, industrial-size kiln at his new studio, and he is still experimenting and working with the nuances of the larger kilns. Here is a glimpse at what we saw that fine morning, which started in Nara and led us to Kodo-san in Shiga.