Okuno Tobo is nestled among beautiful, forested mountains along the historical Ise Highway, or Ise Hokkaido. From the Kamakura Period, roughly the 12 century AD, to the Edo Period, ending around 1868, it was used by pilgrims who visited the famous Ise Shrine, or Ise Jingu. The town is located just South and West of urban Osaka and Kyoto and is a wonderful escape from their individual hustle and bustle. In 1995 the two artisans, Toshiharu and Yoko Okuno, moved to Mitsue Village where they built their home and ceramics studio.
Although Mitsue is a small village it does have a lot to offer. Not only is the area beautiful, but it also has wonderful hiking trails and many interesting shrines and temples. In Mitsue’s Maruyama Park there is also a wild cherry tree which is a real sight when it blooms in the spring. In addition, there is a farmer’s market that sells locally made sake (named Hinode), a hot spring or onsen, and a pizza restaurant in town.
There are also much to see in Nara Prefecture at large. Nearby, there are traces of both Kobo Daishi and Yamatohime no Mikoto. The former was a monk with fantastic powers, sources claim that he would stamp his walking staff on the ground and a natural spring would rise to meet it. The later was a princess of the imperial court, she is rumored to be responsible for Mitsue’s name. These two people and the Ise Hokkaido are included in Japan’s Seven Wonders, all of which are related to some of Japan’s oldest recorded history.
Please come to Okuno Tobo and Mitsue to immerse yourself in Japan’s culture, nature, and history.
Our White Porcelain Lampshade.
No two lampshades are the same. We choose to make the piece on the potter’s wheel and to leave the traces of our fingers. Each piece has a unique shape and also an individual translucence which is unknown until it emerges from the kiln. Like all ceramics there is always a hint of uncertainty before putting a piece into a kiln but with the shade it is even more special. There is something about the mystery involved that is very exciting and worthwhile. (Toshiharu)
The village of Mitsue is the easternmost area of Nara Prefecture. The historical Ise Highway runs East to West through the village for about 13km. In ancient times it flourished as a post station along the aforementioned highway, once the shortest road connecting Ise and Yamato. The name ‘Mitsue’, which can be very roughly translated to walking stick, is derived from the story of Yamatohime-no-Mikoto, or the Mikoto of Yamatohime. The Mikoto of Yamatohime was a princess, related to the Emperor of Japan, and she was charged with the task of finding a suitable location for the worship of Amaterasu, the Japanese Shinto (native, animistic religion) Sun Goddess. While looking for this certain location she came upon the area where Mitsue is today, and two very important things happened. One, she thought Mitsue was a very suitable place for worshiping Amaterasu but was later beat out by Ise, where the shrine is today. Two, she left her walking stick, rumored to be held in a local shrine to this very day.