Kyoto’s Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival

This annual street market offers hundreds of pottery stores and stalls. Kyoto-style pottery is available at big discounts. Off the main street some pottery workshops are open their doors and you can meet and chat with the potters and see how Kyoto pottery is made.

Kiyomizu Yaki is the famous pottery of the ancient capital. Historically Gojo Street was where the artisans, kilns and pottery stores were located in the city. Now, many of the kilns have relocated over the mountain to Yamashina, but Gojo Street still has many Kiyomizi-yaki pottery dealers and is a favorite stop for visitors to Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-yaki is usually quite expensive, especially pieces for the tea ceremony or ikebana flower arrangement by well known potters.

Fortunately there is an opportunity to purchase Kiyomisu-yaki at more reasonable prices at the Gojo-zaka Pottery Festival every August from the 7th to the 10th.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Gojo-zaka Shinise Pottery Store

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Gojo-zaka Pottery Festival Street Stalls and Shoppers

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Gojo-zaka Pottery Festival Street Stalls and Shoppers

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Wakamiya Hachiman 'Kiyomizu-yaki' Shrine

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Gojo-zaka Shinise Pottery Store

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Gojo-zaka Pottery Workshop Open House

Many of the famous kilns sell their ‘seconds’ at this festival. These are pieces with imperfections and defects. Of course, this being Kyoto, even seconds are quite high quality. An untrained eye may not be able to spot a defect. There are also numerous potters from both Kyoto and other regions of Japan, many of them young and undiscovered. They set up stalls along the sidewalk opposite the established ‘shinise’ pottery deals.

All kinds of styles are available; from traditional Kyoto style ceramics to funky, arty ceramics. Prices start very cheap. I saw some small bowls that were 90 yen (about 90 cents US). That is really, really cheap. I couldn’t see any flaw in the glaze or shape. There were lots of cups, plates and bowls for under 1,000 yen. Normally I expect to spend about 1,500 to 3,000 yen for a lower-end Kiyomizu-yaki plate or bowl.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Colorful Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Seconds -- Very Cheap

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Half-price Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Traditional 'Blue on White' Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Variety of Pottery

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Colorful Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery

About Kiyomizu Yaki
At present Kyoto has 200 kamamoto ‘kiln owners’ whose ancestors helped to built the rich, varied and elegant pottery and ceramic culture of Kyoto. The best potters with confidence in their own skills and creativity migrated from outlying regions of the country to relocate in Kyoto. These craftsmen settled in the Gojo and Higashiyama neighborhoods of the east side of the city.

The highly sophisticated tea and culinary culture of Kyoto demanded beautiful and artistic pottery for presenting dishes with great sensitivity to the season. The sophistication of Kyoto cuisine and the presence of the imperial household kept a constant pressure on the potters of Kyoto to evolve and improve their technical skills and creativity.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Not Cheap: If you've been looking for a $6,500 tea cup, this is the place!


About Gojo-Zaka Pottery Festival

Called Gojo-zaka Toki Matsuri in Japanese, this street market festival started in 1920 is now one of the largest pottery markets in Japan. The market festival coincides with the Obon Festival in which people visit their family tomb to pray to their ancestors. Farther up the hill on Gojo Street are several major temples with expansive cemeteries. The neighborhood kilns and stores exploited the seasonal influx of visitors to sell off their stock inferior quality pottery.

Now, young and undiscovered potters open stalls here and begin their entry into the pottery world.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Arty Ceramics: This is one weird shape donabe.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Arty Ceramics: Very Funky

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Arty Ceramics: These looked like they were made of cast iron.

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Grab Bag: 10,000 Yen Tea Set

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

Toki Matsuri Poster

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

View of Gojo-zaka Street with Stalls

Kyoto's Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival 京都 清水焼き 五条坂 陶器まつり

View of Gojo-zaka Street with New Highway

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Pottery Festival Location
The festival takes place on both sides of Gojo Street between Kawabata and Higashi-oji Streets. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The closest station is Kiyomizu Gojo on the Keihan Railway.

If you walk up Gojo Street toward the mountains for another 15 minutes or so you will be in the scenic Kiyomizu Temple neighborhood.

Dates and Times
August 7-10, every year
9 am to 11 pm

Article Links and Reference
Gojo-Zaka Pottery Festival website (Japanese language)
Yakimono (Japanese pottery) Wikipedia article

5 Responses to “Kyoto’s Gojo-Zaka Kiyomizu-yaki Pottery Festival”

  1. Hi! I was at this festival last year and I am trying to track down one of the vendors. The pottery I bought was, I believe, made by mentally handicapped adults.
    If you can help, I would love to know. I am returning to Kyoto
    in three weeks and would like to order some ceramics for my store.
    Thank you!

  2. […] between August 7th and 10th. Michael B. (aka Peko) has a good piece about it up on his site “Open Kyoto” so I shan’t bother reinventing the wheel… I want to tell you a spooky story […]

  3. akira says:

    I need to buy different ceramics for a new restaurant opening here in the uk.
    Normally I buy from catalogues however this restaurant is a bit more special and I am making the journey to kyoto to buy different things. However I have never done this before and dont know prices and am a little worried how it will all work out for me.
    Can you advisee me a little please:
    Is this ceramic festival in august the best time for me to see many different ceramics?
    Is it cheaper then usual?
    Can I find more unusual items in Kyoto the in catalogues?
    Can you recommend some shops to see when I come to kyoto in mid july please perhaps some might have websites.
    I would appreciate any help.
    Than you
    A

  4. Tracy Davidson says:

    Hi, I am a ceramic artist from Canada and will be visiting Kyoto October and November this year. Is there a potter’s guild that I can join or a place to volunteer in Kyoto. My husband and I will be living near the Kyoto University. Thank you.

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