Hirashizmizu is an ancient pottery village at the edge of Yamagata City, surrounded by nature, and today, home to a variety of artisanal shops and traditional craftsmen. This experience is a great introduction to the village, all the while getting to make your own pottery and enjoy a special sake tasting profiling the best local brews.
Experience at A Glance:
A hands-on ceramic experience at the historic Shichiemongama workshop.
We will ship your handmade dish to you anywhere in the world.
Tour of Shichiemongama factory and ceramics showroom
Guided sake tasting at La Jomon boutique
Walk through Heisenji Temple
Event Date(s) Year Round, See Below
Activity Length Approximately 4 hours
Activity Time Flexible, see below
Price 10,000 yen for non-alcoholic tasting
(does not include shipping costs)
20,000 (long course)
We’ll start the tour at the famous Shichiemongama pottery workshop, one of the only two remaining artisan kilns in the village. Shichiemongama is a very special store, having been in the same family for over 150 years and seven generations. While the style of pottery created here has changed over time, the methods are materials are still quite traditional. You’ll get to see some beautiful examples of the kinds of ceramicware produced today, and then get a chance to try your hand at the craft.
The on-site ceramics experience is great fun for all ages, and no prior pottery-making experience is necessary. Because the raw materials (taken from the nearby mountain, Chitoseyama) have certain unique characteristics, the molding method is also somewhat different from conventional pottery. But your guide will show you everything you need to know to make a beautiful souvenir, be it a dish, bowl, or your own personal sake cup! After the class, we’ll take a quick tour of the facility, and you’ll see how your work of art will be finished up. (The pottery does take additional time to dry, glaze, and bake, but Shichiemongama can ship your handmade dish straight to your home, anywhere in the world.)
Next, we’ll pop in to the Shichemongama showroom, displaying a variety of items and styles, as well as some rare antiquities from the early age of ceramics production at the kiln. Today Shichiemongama’s kilns are gas-fired, but one ancient wood-fired kiln remains on the site, but is only used once or twice a year. In the showroom, you can also see (and buy) examples of the pottery from this kiln, whose color and texture comes completely from a natural ashing process inside the kiln.
While a pottery cottage industry once flourished here, now several different trades and artisan shops call Hirashimizu home. Just a block up the street, we’ll head to one such shop, La Jomon, an intimate sake boutique specializing in rare, local pure rice wine sakes (and all-locally produced drinking snacks.) But the best way to learn about Japanese sake is of course to taste it yourself.
This sake course includes three varieties of pure rice wine carefully selected by proprietor and sake brewer Taro Kumagai, and four pours in total. You’ll get a chance to try each sake out of specialized drinking vessels, all handmade at Shichiemongama, and see how even the type of cup you drink from can affect the delicate flavor of Japanese sake. All sakes are additionally paired with locally produced drinking snacks.
Non-alcohol drinkers can enjoy 100% locally produced juices in lieu of sake.
Afterward, your guide will also introduce you to the idyllic Heisenji temple just around the corner, and the beautiful, famed weeping cherry tree that forms the centerpiece of the monastery.
While still maintaining the standard hirashimizu course to keep this experience accessible to everyone, we have also created a longer course option to give visitors a deeper experience into this village.
This course will include a deeper lecture by Taro Kumagai in a private room behind the workshop which will explore the flavors and unique attributes of Yamagata's finest sake accompanied of course by tasting throughout the lesson.
After the sake course we will visit Kameya, an acclaimed silk crafts shop that produces high end silk products using silk and dyes produced entirely in Yamagata Prefecture. Here you will meet the family that has run this shop for generations including a visit to their storehouse to see and learn about some of their prized family heirlooms demonstrating the finest of Yamagata's master craftsmanship.
Lastly after finishing your pottery experience you will have a chance to enjoy tea and treats together with the family that runs this shop inside of their show room together to end the day.
Reservations and Important Notes
-This experience is available year-round and Activity Times are flexible.
-This experience is available to all-ages. Non-alcoholic options are available for the tasting portion of the tour.
-Please send us a reservation inquiry for availability.
Please let us and others know what you thought of this experience!