Tobe is a suburb to the south of Matsuyama known for its ceramics known as Tobe-yaki. The town became a centre for porcelain when kaolin clay was discovered nearby. In Tobe, there many opportunities to see, buy and make attractive pottery products. You can spend a pleasant hour or two at one of several centres by paying a small fee to purchase a pre-made plate or cup and finishing them in the main Tobe-yaki style.
There are several museums of Tobe-yaki work through the ages with some very attractive examples. Tobe ware varies from exquisitely delicate vases and ornamental bowls with turquoise-white glaze, to robust white tableware with bold patterning in indigo and vermillion.
People tend to imagine Tobe as a picturesque, arty sort of town, visibly full of potter’s ateliers. Actually, it’s rather a nondescript place, a suburb of Matsuyama strung out along an uninteresting stretch of road. But once you get off the main road and dig around in the side roads, you can find the kilns and ateliers, known as kama meaning ‘kiln’. You can actually go in some of them and see the potters at work. You can also purchase their products. Baizan-Gama Pottery, one of the larger establishments, has an old unused noborigama or ‘climbing kiln’. You can go inside the kiln and see how the various dishes and cups were stacked, and also touch the brown, shiny glaze that formed on the bricks through many years of use.
Tobe also has two breweries producing some very agreeable marques.
Name in Japanese: 砥部
Address: Iyo District, Ehime Prefecture