Student Blog Post #12 A Trip to a Pottery Village and an Unexpected Chance to Play the Japanese Game of Go

As we anticipate our last class on Friday we have a blog post from Alex Milliken And Jenny Beller. Alex shares the day trip that half the students took to Shigaraki when we were in Kyoto. Shigaraki is known as one of the six ancient kiln sites, and is known for its wood-fired, porcelain ware.

My personal favorite experience while visiting Kyoto was our one day trip to the “ceramic” village and cultural center in the small mountain town of Shigaraki. Our trip started off negotiating the Kyoto train station  to start our trip by train. As the trip progressed into the countryside, we had to keep changing into smaller and smaller trains until the final mountain climbing train that was only two cars long. While on the train we could look out the window to see aspects of local rural life that was very traditional in comparison to the busy streets of Tokyo or Kyoto. There were rice paddies and farms that looked as if they had not changed much over the past century. Finally we made it to our destination and got to experience first hand the beautifully imperfect and rustic works of art that have been being made in Shigaraki for nearly one thousand years.

Christie Herbert, Academic Director, adds a few photos she took during the trip to Shigaraki. 

Next we hear from Jenny Beller who had an unexpected experience in Kyoto she will never forget. 

Last Thursday in Kyoto I had the time of my life. I had the amazing opportunity to play Go, a very old, abstract strategy board game popular in Japan. I walked into a café near the Kyoto Station, ordered a snack, and sat down. Stunned and excited, I noticed several people playing Go at the table next to me! With a little nudge from Will, I went up to them and before I knew it, I was playing a game. There were three people: a lady, and younger gentleman, and an older gentleman. Despite the language barriers and communication difficulties, they were very inclusive and nice about making conversation. They asked me how I learned to play Go, and I said my dad taught me, and they asked why I was in Japan, and I explained about studying abroad to learn about Japanese culture and art. When I said I was from America, the older gentleman explained that he has an American friend who teaches at Cornell University and plays Go. Small world, I thought! Smiling and completely in the moment, this was truly an exciting and extraordinary experience. The younger gentleman was a very strong player, and despite having lost to him, I still relished in every moment. It was a night I will never forget.


One thought on “Student Blog Post #12 A Trip to a Pottery Village and an Unexpected Chance to Play the Japanese Game of Go

  1. It’s wonderful, jenny , that you reached out and played that game! You became part of the culture you’re studying ! Can’t wait to hear all about this trip and to see you ,


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