Wednesday, 15th November 2018

I did not plan these few days very well. After our mission to get to Hakone last night we worked out that we had to be up and out very early to catch an early morning bus if we wanted to be in Tokyo in time for Ben's Kintsugi class at 1pm.

While we were standing at the bus stop, Ben managed to nip down to the lakeside to take some photos before the bus arrived and we found a vending machine selling snacks to eat for breakfast.

Lake Ashi

Hills around Lake Ashi

This was our last travel day of the trip; from Hakone to Tokyo.

Hakone to Tokyo

Once we were back in Tokyo, we headed straight for the trains that would take us to our Kintsugi class.

Tokyo streets

Ben by the window

Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer and gold. Each piece takes weeks or months depending on the complexity, but Sensei Showzi-san teaches a four-hour course to show you the basics. (Here's a link: Kintsugi in 1 day)

He provided small cups with v-shaped chips on the edge to the students. Since it was a fairly expensive experience (gold!) we only paid for Ben to take part. I felt a little guilty being there too but Showzi and his wife were very welcoming and let me take photos of the process.

Ben concentrating

The gold dust is sprinkled over the black lacquer and then blended together by dabbing it.

Dusting with gold dust

Blending in the gold dust

The cups are the fired to melt the gold and burnished by rubbing a smooth gem over the area once cooled.

Showzi at work

The freshly lacquered cups were placed in a curing cupboard. The curing process takes too long for a half-day session, so the cup that Ben lacquered is different to the one he put gold onto and can take home.

Curing cupboard

While waiting for the cups to fire and cool, Sensei Showzi performed a tea ceremony in the style of a samurai and showed us other examples of his work. Delicate pieces of kintsugi with different mediums, and photos of larger pieces that were on display elsewhere.

Kettle

Once the cups had cooled, we could take them home.

Finished cups

It was nice to think of how some previous guest of Showzi had worked carefully on these before us, and that the cups we'd worked on earlier would go to future guests in turn.

Finished cups (2)

When the tea was finished and the class was over; we packed the cups carefully in our rucksack, and headed back out to the streets.

We found our way to Pokémon Center MEGA TOKYO, the largest Pokémon Center in Tokyo!

Tokyo Pokemon Center

Now that we are back in Tokyo, we are also in our last hotel of the trip, so we can stock up on gifts without worrying about how we have to carry them around the country! We bought lots of plushies for Christmas gifts (and one or two for ourselves)

Tokyo Pokemon Center (2)

Then something to eat.

Pizza