After some delicious tea with Irie and Atsuko Kazuko, a kind lady named Sabusa took Irie and me to see a special place up in the mountains. What was formerly an elementary school 20 years ago, Monozukuri Gakkou is now a small gallery and gift shop selling local handicraft products and art pieces. It is quite a drive up to this place, and once we got there we drove up to a lonely parking lot with only one other cubicle car in the corner. Like many places in Daisen, it was peacefully quiet and only the sounds of the soft breeze shifting the branches and brushing the grass can be heard.
Outside the compound, something unusual rested among the overgrown and untended front yard. A huge ring of logs circled a bush, each with distinctly decorated patterns, some with hand prints and some with geometrical shapes. Beyond this mystical set up, was something that appeared to be giant’s mishap of spilled color pencils and a large MONO eraser.
The pencils are made of entire tea trunks, with its ends carved and painted into different colored tips. The natural media used in this art piece gave me a striking sensation, and made me feel very small while simultaneously embracing my inner childhood imaginations of being a miniature.
Inside the building, it was clearly evident that this used to be an elementary school. Many academic elements and furniture from the old school has not been discarded but incorporated into the artistic nature of the gallery. Every room has it’s own theme, worked by one or two artists. The main room where the cashier is located is decorated from wall to wall with cute paintings of books, birds and nature.
Around the room, there are several mixed media sculptures situated around the gallery. They are made of metallic housewares, dolls, wooden carvings and other random bits and pieces.
There are so many things you can buy here, and that would please anyone as a gift. From handmade jewelry, paper handbags, wallets, paintings, customized stationary items, to ceramic sculptures and rustic earthenware. All of these are made by local artists and from natural materials. The cost of these items are also very reasonably priced for something made by qualified artists in limited editions.
After the invigorating stroll through this gallery, we finished off with some refreshments at the cafe adjoining the gallery. Again, the cafe itself was just as beautifully decorated as the gallery. The cafe was decorated with all sorts of ornaments, fresh garden squash and root veggies resting on a bar, and again ancient school elements that really created this cheery country vibe that was at the same time abstract.
If you are interested, please visit them here:
I also want to thank Sabusa for bringing me here and showing me this wonderful gallery