Friday, July 01, 2005

Tougei Taisai: Sun, Aug. 21, 2005

"It is ultimately faith that lies at the bottom of all my work. We do not work alone. Man can make a bowl of clay. He can make it round and smooth, but until it is fired it cannot be used. Man can lay the fire and light the flame. But still it is the fire itself that really completes the bowl. And that fire is something bigger and more wonderful
than any man."
from "We Do Not Work Alone" by
Japanese potter Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966.)

Comments like this from the Japanese pottery tradition are common. The great potter Hamada Shoji also said that his work goes into the kiln "unfinished," and that the Other Power of tradition, the elements, and spiritual nature guided the fire & kiln to complete his work.

Considering this, it has been a Japanese tradition to make offerings to the gods at the completion of a new kiln, as well as at the beginning of every firing. In general; salt, for purification; and sake (rice wine) are placed in small dishes or cups above the fire mouth of the kiln. With this attitude of humility does the firing begin...

TOUGEI TAISAI: Potters Blessing Ceremony and Fundraising Pottery Sale Tsubaki Shrine of America
Sunday, August 21st, 2005
11:00am to 5:00pm
As Japanese pottery traditions have influenced contemporary pottery worldwide, this event was created to bring more than technique or materials to local potters wishing additional exposure to and inspiration by the spiritual side of this ancient craft tradition. It will also be an opportunity for the public to witness this sacred ceremony, puchase the works of local pottery artists, and to enjoy a musical offering of a "Sacred Clay" performance of healing music utilizing clay instruments from various native traditions.
We are fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have the only Shinto Shrine in North America.
Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America was founded in 1992, as a branch of Tsubaki Ohkami Yashiro in Mie Prefecture, Japan; which itself was founded in the 3rd Century BCE, making it one of the oldest and most important Shinto Shrines in that country.

The American shrine is overseen by Rev. Koichi Barrish, the first American to be ordained as a priest in Shinto history.

The relationships to pottery and potters can be found in the Shrine's dieties; the Gosaijin (Main Kami [Diety]) of Tsubaki Shrine is Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami; a primal earthly kami of guidance, positiveness, and protection. The connection is earth, the material of pottery. Also enshrined is Ame-no-uzume-no-Mikoto; kami of arts, harmony, meditation, and joy who is frequently called upon to help artists and artisans.

An O-harae, or "purification" ceremony will be conducted for all potters attending the event. Such ceremonies are used to wish for the health, safety, and success of those being blessed, and to stengthen the bond between our earthly and spiritual natures. This ceremony is also open to the public, but seating priority in the main shrine will be given to participating potters.

Also part of the ceremony will a musical offering to the Shrine Dieties in the form of a rare performance by international recording artist, composer, and educator, Gary Stroutsos. Gary's music has been described as World Jazz, Healing, Ethnic Improvisational, and more; but the underlying theme is a deep reverence for native cultures and traditions, and their profound respect for the earth. He will be performing selections from a new recording appropriately titled "Sacred Clay," which features such instruments as Native American clay flutes and African Udu drums, created by Olympia area potter, Rod Kendall. Stroutsos has performed in such spiritual locations as Arizona's Canyon de Chelley, the Sakya Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, and several public and private gardens as part of ethnic cultural festivals. He has also performed in venues such as Seattle's Benaroya Hall, the Kirkland Performing Arts Center, and in 1997 a command performance for former President Clinton at the White House.

The blessing ceremony will begin at 3:00pm, and should last about 45 minutes, including the musical offering. In the Shrine's Kaikan, or Public Hall, a fundraising pottery sale will be held from 11:00am until 5:00pm, with the exception of during the ceremony. The works of participating potters will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds directly benefitting Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. Along with the works of local potters, antique and contemporary ceramics from Asia will also be available for exhibition and purchase. It will be a wonderful opportunity to acquire pottery and meet artists on a deeper level than one may have experienced before.
There is no admission fee to this event, but donations to the Shrine are always most welcome. We sincerely hope that you will attend this special celebration joining the worlds of of earth, art, and spirituality.

Less than an hour's drive from Seattle, the Shrine is located on a 25-acre pristine site on a bend of the Pilchuck River, near Granite Falls, WA. The address is:
Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
17720 Crooked Mile Road; Granite Falls, WA 98252
T: 360-691-6389.
For further information about Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America, including driving directions and Shinto ceremonies, please visit the Shrine's website at:

For information on participating as a potter in this event, please contact Tatsuo Tomeoka, of WaSabiDou Antiques & Folk Crafts, at E: or by phone at 206.660.4189 (FYI: I will be out of town on business from Aug. 7th-16th, so will be unavailable by phone, but will be accessing e-mail.) Or, in my absence, please contact Rev. Barrish at Tsubaki Shrine: 360-691-6389. E:
We look forward to seeing you there!