Art Space Aburakame: Unique Earthenware at a Gallery in a 140-Year-Old Traditional Japanese House.

Located on the shore opposite Okayama’s Korakuen garden (one of Japan’s 3 greatest) is the town area of Izushi. As it was spared the carnage of WW2, numerous retro buildings from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras remain, which makes the townscape very elegant.

Known as “Aburakame” by the townspeople, this is the 140-year-old traditional Japanese house in which Art Space Aburakame is located. The name originates from the fact that the house was once an oil (‘abura’) wholesale shop run by a person known as “Kame-san”.

The gallery holds unique exhibitions once or twice a month from the staff’s original perspective.

On the day of our visit, a 3000 piece “Mamezara all star” exhibition was being held with the slogan “Although small, they’re amazing. Because they’re small, they’re amazing”. (March 12 thru March 27, 2016.)

Excited to the see the display of all the mamezara by various creators, I open the sliding door and enter.

Lined up on the shelves, the mamezara are so small they fit in the palm of the hand! Each piece just radiates.

This is for soy sauce, that is to rest chopsticks on, no wait maybe it should be put on a stand and displayed… As I lift each piece and admire them one at a time, I almost forget the time!

“Our job is to connect creators with buyers. By explaining the creators’ backgrounds and stories we help in creating fans,” says Mr. Yoshitaka Kashiwado, the gallery representative.

As well as the thoughts the creators put into the works, he offers various information and stories related to each piece.

These karuta card style mamezara were created by Yoshimi Tanaka, a potter living in Fukuoka.

The character for “ki” is “kinniku” (‘muscles’), the character “so” is “soujiki” (‘vacuum cleaner’), “a” must be “ami-tights” (‘fishnet stockings’)… I start thinking and I just can’t stop looking.

These are works by Okamotors, an artist from Ehime prefecture.

Each piece is created based on people the artist has met at some point. I feel like I’ve seen these people before, too!

From playful pieces like the ones above, to practical daily utensils, a wide variety of mamezara have been gathered for the exhibition.

Including Mr. and Mrs. Kashiwado, the representatives, gallery staff total 5 people. They tour around the country looking for potters and artists who create pieces that brim with originality. They commission works related to specific themes so they can hold exhibitions like this one.

In this cozy space, I feel like I could just keep on admiring these charming pieces forever without getting bored.

Exhibitions incorporating fresh ideas like “Vessels for Coffee” or “Bowls for Curry” are so popular that fans visit the gallery from all over Japan.

To find out the latest information on current or forthcoming exhibitions, check the Art Space Aburakame

How about a visit to Okayama’s Art Space Aburakame to feel the richness of handicrafts and to find pieces to add color to your everyday life? 


Art Space Aburakame

Location/ 2-3-1 Izushi, Kita-ku, Okayama, Okayama Prefecture
Open: 11:00-19:00
Closed: No regular holidays (changes according to the exhibition schedule)
Tel: 086-201-8884

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