Located in the Hyōgo region of Japan, Sasayama bears witness to a rich diversity of over 4,700 different expressions of crafts and folk art. The best known is the tanba-yaki pottery, which skillset has been passed down from one generation to the next for over eight centuries, and is considered one of the six most ancient forms of pottery in Japan, known as the “Six Old Kilns”. As a genuine symbol of local pride, the know-how of tanbayaki pottery is still perpetuated within the new generation of artisans.
Every year, the best works of tanba-yaki are showcased at the Tanba-yaki Pottery Festival held in the Museum of Ceramic Art. This event attracts more than 140,000 visitors annually from Japan and all over the world. In addition, Sasayama is also known for its Dekancho Festival, which takes place at the former site of Sasayama Castle, and is dedicated to the popular folk dance bon-odori, which originated from the city.
To sustain the crafts and folk art sector, the city has implemented several training schemes and cooperative associations. Sasayama fosters a comprehensive and integrated policy framework by involving different stakeholders of the creative sector in the decision-making process. The city is firmly committed to invest in creativity for moving along a sustainable urban development path – a pledge recently supported by the rehabilitation of about fifty ancient houses into creative spaces.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Sasayama envisages:
- transmitting and perpetuating the traditional know-how of tanba-yaki pottery within the next generations of artisans; establishing a school of artisans focusing on research and innovation, and involving multistakeholder cooperation;
- cooperating actively with other Creative Cities, notably on exploring fruitful linkages between the creative fields of crafts and folk art and gastronomy;
- fostering artistic exchanges through the Tanba International Residency programme aimed at investing in youth creativity for revitalizing abandoned houses and using recycling and environment-friendly materials and methods; and
- positioning the city as a successful model of creativity-led sustainable urban development.