Tracy Jiao: Pottery and Yoga

When deciding to attend the KCJS program, I understand a commitment that goes beyond taking regular Japanese courses, and CIP (community involvement program) is just one of these opportunities to reach out and truly become an active member in the city of Kyoto. Because of some previous experience in pottery and yoga, I chose to proceed to take classes in these areas. Surprisingly, both pottery and yoga take a very distinctive style in Japan; like many other things, they have turned Nihonka, adapting to the aesthetic tastes and physical needs of the locals.

Unlike western countries that prefer doing pottery on electric wheels, the pottery studio I went to in Kyoto, 藤平陶芸, makes most of their works on hand-powered wheels or simply boards. At first, I was a little befuddled by this choice, since the electronic machine seems much more efficient in making a perfect, slick piece. This question kept coming back to me, especially during times on the hand-powered wheel that last two hours every two weeks. Used to the fast electronic tourneys, I felt impatient toward the slow pace and vibe in the Fujihira studio. However, when strolling around the work display area in the studio one day, I suddenly began to understand the masters’ choice of slow development. The delicacy and elegance of these finished works directly relate to the time each master spent making them. If a pottery maker did not look close and long enough at the piece, he would neglect the details which set it apart from other mass-produced vessels. In this era of mass production, customers keep coming back to Fujihira studio to purchase a cup three times more expensive than the ones sold in IKEA. The secret behind Japanese Art’s gracefulness and their studios’ durability is rooted in the tradition. Instead of conforming to new trends, small workshops in Kyoto kept their traditional way of practice as if time has not passed.

In addition to pottery, I found a deeper understanding of the meaning of yoga practices as well. Through the zen breathing and meditation combination, I discovered a peace in my body that power yoga classes would never bring out. By communicating with teachers and students of these two studios, I gradually recognize the spirit of Kyoto that goes beyond its magnificent temples and shrines.

Sincerity yoga(シンセリティヨガ):


3 thoughts on “Tracy Jiao: Pottery and Yoga

  1. I’m glad you managed to so thoroughly enjoyed both the pottery and yoga classes you undertook in Kyoto. Although I’ve never been artistically inclined and would probably horribly fail at pottery, I have taken yoga classes before and loved the experience. They have, as you mentioned in your blog post, been power yoga classes, having recently ventured into hot yoga. I would love to explore the slower, more meditative yoga that you seem to have found a measure of peace in.

  2. I wanted to take yoga last semester but it seemed a bit too pricey and I’m stiff as a board. I was curious about the average age of the students who attended the yoga classes. Was it mainly mid-aged women with children, older women or younger women? Or was it a mix of all three? Actually, was it co-ed?!

  3. トレーシーYou sound like you had a very wonderful experience! Its so cool that you participated in two activities! It seems like the most important part for you was your deeper understanding of Japanese traditional culture, which can only be realized during practicing, and concentrating on the work.
    My question is, after “feeling impatient toward the slow pace and vibe” in the very beginning, when did you begin to understand the art of “slow development”. And what work(s) impressed you most in the work display area in the studio?