Despite how common it is to see a pottery shop in Kyoto, one can still easily run into unique works that explicitly demonstrate the distinct worldview of their creators. Stock, the pottery shop in Kita-ku is perhaps a little bit different; none of the ceramic pieces stands out distinctively, but together they become a collective picture that narrates the passion of the shop owner.
Before opening Stock, Mr and Mrs Satō were living in Tokyo when Japan was struck by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Electricity power and food supply were both adversely affected by the earthquake. A feeling of helplessness made the couple realize the abundance they enjoyed in the metropolis was simply a superficial illusion. The Satōs began to wonder what they had achieved and lost in their repetitive life of hard work.
The two of them then decided to leave the bustling Tokyo and moved to the comparatively unhurried city in Kyoto to start their life anew. Utilizing their earlier experience as interior designers, the couple started their own home ware shop that sells daily life utilities. Without any ornaments, items in the shop are all subtly designed purely for the basic needs of life. Mr Satō mentioned that their choice of merchandize is influenced by the late potter Kawai Kanjiro, ‘I tried using tea bowl made by Mr Kanjiro for the first time in a tea party hosted by Kawai Toshitaka, the curator of Kawai Kanjiro’s House and the grandson of the potter. Ceramic pieces made by Mr Kanjiro carry a very strong character, but they are at the same time created for practical use. Startled by that experience, I felt an intensive interest in Japanese folk arts started to grow in me.’
Beauty in utilitarian objects is not only a philosophy promoted by Mingei Movement, but is also a belief that has taken root in the Satōs. To prepare for the opening of Stock, the husband and wife visited many kilns in Japan, for example Syussai Kiln and Yumachi Kiln in Shimane Prefecture, and Tamba in Hyōgo Prefecture. Among many of the Japanese folk arts pieces selected for Stock, there are Ontayaki pottery, Okinawa pottery, as well as Slipware by Yoji Yamada and ceramic pieces made by Yoshinori Sugimoto.
Chasing for a luxurious and flamboyant life blinds one from recognizing the beauty of ordinary life. Living is pleasurable when one learns to appreciate unapparent details in a basic daily life. This is the philosophy of life I have learnt from Stock.
Taishogunhigashitakatsukasacho 163, Kyoto Kita-ku, Kyoto