In the old days of Kyoto, each trade had a dedicated street, and Gojo street has been known as the pottery street of Kyoto. The famous Kyoto pottery styles Kyo-yaki and Kyomizu-yaki were made in this area and were sold numerous pottery shops on Gojo street. Because of the change of the environmental laws in 1980 the all wood-burning kilns had to be moved out of Kyoto city, but that didn’t stop Gojo to thrive as the pottery street.
Pottery festival on Gojo street started almost a hundred years ago, the first is said to have been held in 1920. What may have given the start to the pottery festival, was the annual visit to the nearby Rokudo Chinnou temple during Obon season to pay respects to the diseased spirits. Lots of people came to visit the temple and that gave an opportunity for the pottery makers and sellers to offer unsold items.
Today Gojo Zaka is one of the largest pottery festivals in Japan that gathers around 400 pottery makers and sellers from all around country. Ignoring the strong summer heats about 400,000 people visit the four-day festival to enjoy generous bargains and find some unique pieces.
Many pottery artists are local to Kyoto, but some travel from as far as Aichi, Yamaguchi, Nagasaki. While the festival is not focused on teaware specifically there is definitely no lack of it. You can find tea cups, teapots, Matcha bowls and others in numerous styles. Some vendors bring teaware in traditional styles, such as colourful and vibrant Kyo-yaki and Kyomizu-yaki, more earthy Shigaraki-yaki, dark-toned Bizen-yaki, etc. Other vendors present items in newer and more modern styles, often with the touch of their own unique personal creativity.
If you can bear the strong summer sun, Gojo Zaka Pottery Festival a unique occasion to enjoy many different pottery styles and likely to find something dear for yourself.