More than 300 years of ceramic tradition are celebrated in this area behind Kokusai-dori's main drag. More than 20 workshops produce Okinawa's distinctive pottery, ranging from cheap souvenirs to special pieces for wealthy collectors. The famous Japanese potter Shoji Hamada came here in the 1920s and left with the inspiration for his notable works, but you may be more inspired by what you find in the nearby pottery museum than what you see on sale—some of the dishes and shisa statues can be kitschy, although the bits of broken pottery whimsically accenting walls and doorways in Gaudí-esque embellishment are a lot of fun.
Kiyomasa Toki. This kiln was started by a distant forbear of the current master, Takashi Kobashikawa, himself a government-designated Master of Traditional Crafts. "The pots shapes change generation to generation with the hands of the individual potters," says Takashi, but the freewheeling geometrics and whimsical fish pattern in a unique red-and-blue
glaze were perfected generations ago and are lovingly celebrated in every new piece. Mugs and tankards are around ¥4,000, cup and saucer sets from around ¥5,000, and larger bowls and platters range from affordable to astronomical. Wrapping and shipping services are available. From the Heiwa-dori arcade, head 200 meters until a small incline leads you up to the red-and-black sign. Tsuboya 1–16–7, 902-0065. 098/862–3654. Daily 10–7.
Tsuboya Pottery Museum. The small but heartfelt Tsuboya Pottery Museum has exhibits illustrating the history of the region's earthenware production, including representative pieces from all periods, and a reproduction of a traditional Okinawan house, showing Tsubo-yaki tableware and kitchen utensils. Next to the museum is an intact 19th-century climbing kiln, called a nobori-gama. Detailed English explanations make the experience more exciting and informative. To get to the pottery district, walk through Heiwa-dori, the left-hand arcade, until it empties out into Yachimun-dori. 1–9–32 Tsuboya, 902-0065. 098/862–3761. www.edu.city.naha.okinawa.jp/tsuboya. Daily 10–6.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan