Attractions of the Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival

Hello, this is Taki from UTSUWABI.

In this issue, we would like to introduce the “Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival” held in the mountains of Hita City, Oita Prefecture, including the attractions of the event, how to enjoy it, and access to it.

The village where the festival is held is usually a quiet and peaceful pottery village where the sound of a murmuring river can be heard.

On the day of the festival, however, the village is packed with folk pottery lovers from all over the country, making it a very lively place.

There are nine Ontayaki studios. Good pieces sell out one after another, so it is recommended to get there as early as possible.

We also deal in Onta Ware and Koishiwara Ware, so if you are interested, please take a peek here.

Koishiwara ware / Onta ware List Page


What is the Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival?

The Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival is held every year on the second weekend of October in the mountainous region of Hita City, Oita Prefecture.

Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival
Dates: October 12 - 13, 2019
Location: Ontayaki Village (Sarayama, Genyei-cho, Hita City)

Nine potteries will display their works fired especially for this event in their studios, eaves, and storerooms.

Ontaya Ware pottery has a 300-year history and is characterized by traditional decorations such as “tobikanna” and “hakeme.

The festival is said to be a festival to thank the kilns that have worked for a year and to pray for the development of Ontaya Ware.


Points to enjoy the Ontayaki Folk Pottery Festival

On the day of the festival, you will want to pick up your own favorites from the many vessels lined up in a row.

Here are some tips for enjoying the festival.

Vessels to be fired for the festival

The kiln fires many vessels for the festival day.

Normally, they often make vessels to order from stores and galleries, and only during the festival do they have such a large quantity lined up in front of the eaves.

What's more, since you can buy directly from the kiln, the prices are inexpensive.

While chatting leisurely with the kiln owner, take each piece in your hand and carefully feel and look at the weight, thickness, and patterns before making your choice.

Modern and fashionable traditional decorations “Tobikanna” and “Hakeme

One of the most distinctive features of Onta ware is the rhythmic geometric patterns carved into the vessels.

When used at the dining table, this pattern exquisitely complements casual dishes.

It can be used as a main dish, taking advantage of its unique presence, or as a supporting dish, taking advantage of its rustic and subdued coloring.

This is a traditional decorative technique called “tobikanna” or “hakeme,” in which the potter carefully paints each piece using a plane or brush.

What is interesting is that each kiln has its own expression and flavor. Compare the differences and find the one you like best.

Kilns of interest

In order to protect their brand, Ontaya Pottery does not dare to put individual names on their vessels, but when you visit, you can feel the individuality of every potter.

Koji Sakamoto Kiln

Koji Sakamoto's vessels have beautiful traditional decorations and forms that are sometimes bold and powerful.

The comfort and ease with which they fit in with daily life can be said to be the essence of folk pottery, and his solid workmanship is gaining popularity.

He produces a wide range of works from small plates and bowls to large pieces, which is his specialty, and he is also challenging new things such as collaborating with famous select stores.

He is currently making vessels with his son, Takuma Sakamoto.

Kuroki Tomio Kiln

The kiln is run by the owner, Tomio, and his son, Masanobu. The kiln is located near the communal climbing kiln in the center of the village.

While preserving tradition, the pottery is also popular among those who are not familiar with folk crafts, as it is tailored to modern life.

His son Masanobu is one of the most notable young potters.

Let's go back and forth a few times to find your favorite.

Because of the compact nature of the village, it takes less than 20 minutes to go around if you are in a hurry.

Therefore, you can choose the one you are interested in, and then go around several times to choose the best one.

You may get lost in the many items, but as you go around, you will find out what you like.

However, all handmade vessels are one-of-a-kind. Be careful, however, as the ones you like may sell out quickly.

Enjoy the traditional pottery making scene!

Located in the mountains, the village of Onta Pottery is very tranquil and time passes slowly.

It is as if you have time-traveled back to old Japan.

The pleasant sound of the river flowing through the village can be heard when you visit the village. The pleasant sound you hear when you visit the village is the sound of a mortar, which uses the flow of the river to pound potter's clay. You can also see the millstone from the inside, which is very powerful when you get close to it.

Source: Tourism Oita

In the center is a large climbing kiln, and in the workshop in the yard are rows of potter's clay to be dried in the sun.

Visitors can enjoy the scenery of a village where potters continue to make ceramics in the traditional way, which is rare even in Japan.

Source: Tourism Oita

Recommended Stopping Places

Onta Pottery Museum

The Onta Pottery Museum is located on a hill in the village. The museum exhibits valuable Onta Ware pieces from the Edo period, when Onta Ware began, to the present day.

Visitors can learn about the history of Onta Ware pottery and its production methods. The works of Bernard Leach, an English potter who stayed in Onta and deepened exchanges with the potters, are also on display.

Source: Hita City Hall

Mountain Soba Teahouse

This is the only restaurant in the village. The menu includes handmade soba and udon noodles, dango soup, grilled sweetfish, etc. The menu with local chicken and wild vegetables is especially popular.

It is also nice that the food is served in Onta Ware vessels.

Let's also visit Koishiwara Pottery and Folk Pottery Festival.

If you are driving to the Kojada Pottery Folk Pottery Festival, why not also visit Higashimine Village (formerly Koishiwara Village), Asakura County, Fukuoka Prefecture, where Koishiwara Pottery is located?

By car, it takes about 40 minutes. Koishiwara potteries are not as clustered as those of Kojita Ware, so access by car is essential.

It is very enjoyable to see the contrast between Koishiwara Ware, which uses the same tobikanna and hakeme techniques but adheres to the basics, and Koishibara Ware, which gives the impression of a freer style of work.

The pottery fairs are usually held close to each other, although the timing may shift, so if the timing is right, you can participate in either folk pottery festival.

What is Koishiwara Ware?

Koishiwara Pottery is also the root of Kojada Pottery and is known as the “brother kiln” of Koishiwara Pottery.

The kiln opened a little earlier than Koishiwara Pottery in Higashimine Village (formerly Koishiwara Village), Asakura County, Fukuoka Prefecture, and has continued for about 350 years.

Currently, there are more than 50 kilns. While ensuring that traditional techniques such as “tobikanna” and “hakeme” are preserved as in the case of Kojada Ware, each kiln has its own unique ideas and designs that are more suited to the modern eating habits.

What kind of pottery is Onta Ware?

Onta Ware is a traditional pottery that has been handed down for 300 years in the mountains of Hita City, Oita Prefecture.

It is characterized by modern geometric patterns called “tobikanna” and “hakeme,” and has an appeal that strangely matches any cuisine, whether Japanese, Western, Chinese, or ethnic.

Pottery making is rare in Japan, and is done entirely by hand, with local production for local consumption.

The clay used for the potter's clay is from the surrounding area. The clay is then crushed by a “karamusu,” a mortar that is powered by water from a clear stream.

The potter then shapes it using a wheel and decorates it with “tobikanna” or “hakeme.

Firing is also done in a traditional climbing kiln. Firewood procured from the surrounding mountains is used for the firing, which takes about two and a half days.

There are nine kilns in the area. The kiln is passed down from parent to child in a hereditary system, with only four families, Yanase, Kuroki, Sakamoto, and Kobukuro (Kuroki lineage), continuing the tradition from 300 years ago.

Onta pottery became famous in 1931 when Muneyoshi Yanagi, the leader of the folk art movement, visited the area. In his travelogue, Yanagi described it as “the best folk pottery in the world.

Later, the world-famous English potter Bernard Leach also stayed in the area and praised the village and landscape of Oshkada pottery.

In 1970, the village was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan, and the pleasant sound of a Chinese mortar echoing through the village has been selected as one of the “100 Best Sounds of Japan.


To Kyushu

air lane
Use Fukuoka Airport instead of Oita Airport. It is more accessible to Kogada Pottery Village than Oita Airport.

By train
Go from JR Hakata Station to JR Hita Station.

From Hita City to the Village of Onta Pottery

35 minutes by shuttle bus from the Hita Bus Center, located near JR Hita Station. Special shuttle bus service is available only on the festival day.

Approximately 30 minutes from JR Hita Station. It is recommended to enter the address “Satoyama, Genyei-cho, Hita City” or “Onta Pottery Museum” in your car navigation system.

If you enter only “Onta,” be careful, as it may lead you to another place due to the names of other places.

The village of Onta Pottery is located deep in the mountains, and the road from Hita City is a gradual climb up a narrow mountain road. If you are not confident in your driving ability, it is recommended to take a shuttle bus or cab.



The Onta Pottery Folk Pottery Festival is a rare opportunity to actually hold and look at a large selection of handmade pottery. The peaceful atmosphere of the satoyama will also soothe you.

For those who cannot make it to the event.

Our store is based on the concept of “Enjoy the pottery market from the comfort of your own home. We sell a wide variety of folk art vessels based on the concept of “enjoying the pottery market at home.

We also carry Onta Ware pottery, so please take a peek if you like.

Koishiwara ware / Onta ware List Page

Thank you for taking the time to view this page. We hope everyone will be able to find a good work of art!