Last week, I had the opportunities to go to Shigaraki Ceramic Park and Koka’s Ninja village. Shigaraki lies in the southern part of Shiga Prefecture, and is part of the Koka district. As one of Japan’s oldest pottery manufacturing areas, the artists of Shigaraki use clay from the riverbeds of local lakes, and Lake Biwa. The clay itself is rich in minerals, which when fired, gives the pottery a distinctive reddish tint that has been associated with Shigaraki ceramics for generations. At the ceramic park, many artists take up residence and work day in and day out, creating their own sculptures and ceramic pieces. These modern works of art are constantly reinventing the image of Shigaraki ceramics, and have made the ceramic park a popular destination for ceramic artists from all over the world.
Shigaraki Ceramic Park is a wide-open area where people can spend the day walking the grounds and seeing the various sculptures that adorn the landscape. There are hundreds of sculptures throughout the park, ranging from small pieces, to giant ones which are easily recognizable from a distance. The park is also located on top of a tall hill which gives you a spectacular view of the surrounding area, giving the park a distinguishable sense of grandeur. I highly recommend a visit for anyone who is spending the day in the Koka area.
After the ceramic park, we went to Koka’s famous “Ninja Village”. At the village, you have the opportunity to not only dress up as a ninja and try your hand at various obstacles, and learn about the long history of ninjas in the area. The buildings at the village are all original, and give visitors a great opportunity to not only see traditional architecture, but also how Ninjas would build their homes, etc. In one of the buildings we went into, there were a number of secret passages, some of which we had a chance to sneak through ourselves. Along with the other obstacles and activities, such as shuriken throwing, and wall climbing, I think the Ninja Village was good fun for anyone wanting to get out of the house and experience something new!