Yachimun Gallery and Workshop
In the mountains between the two major areas of Kume Island lies one of the most scenic spots on all the island. The banner photo above was taken from this spot. Yachimun is a pottery studio and gallery run by Mr. Ueshiro and his family. There is an extensive gallery of handmade pottery for sale including bowls, cups, and shisa.
It is not just a gallery. At Yachimun you can also make your very own shisa statue under the direction of one of the family. Mr. Ueshiro cultivates the clay from the nearby hills until it is ready to be made into your very own shisa. The gallery is open most days though you may want to call ahead since they can become busy in the summer season with tour groups and children’s groups. Once your shisa is complete, it will take about a month to dry before it can be safely fired. If you live in Japan, he can ship your finished shisa COD, though if you live outside of Japan, you’ll want to select one the shisa from his gallery.
Nearly all the items at the gallery are for sale at reasonable prices. The range of items is impressive! Mr. Ueshiro also makes the clay participation medals for the Kume Island Marathon each year.
If you’d like to make a small shisa, the cost is 3,000 yen including instruction. For a larger shisa, the cost is 6,000 yen. Mr. Ueshiro speaks mostly Japanese, though he will make a shisa along with you, so it is easy to understand the process.
Mr. Ueshiro explains how he makes clay.
Yachimun is tucked away at a scenic spot in the mountains that form the southern point of Kume Island. Luckily, the gallery is easy to find. From road 89, the road that goes around the entire island, you’ll see a drive heading south with these signs around it. If you’re coming from Nakazato/Eff Beach it will be on the left after going up-hill. If you’re coming from Gima/Gushikawa, it will be on the right a bit after passing a concrete factory.
From this drive, you’ll follow the road as it heads up a steep hill. Go past the water treatment plant, and you’ll find a turn with a sign with the Japanese characters for Yachimun (see the red sign at the top, the one at the turn may be a different color). Make a right and there will immediately be a large parking lot with the gallery just above.
Yachimun is open from around 9:00 to the evening. The gallery is open every day and Shisa Making classes are available as well.
Bottles and other interesting clay work is also available at Yachimun.