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Requirements and Costs for Apprenticeship in Japan

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Hi everyone!

I'm very new to this forum so I'm sorry if I make mistakes in putting out my questions, but I hope that someone out there can maybe help answer my questions regarding pottery apprenticeships, particularly in Japan.

I am a 23 year old product design graduate. For the past year I've been diving deep into pottery, but because pottery was just a minor class that I took in Uni, I realize that I still have lots to learn in terms of technicalities, studio management, developing a style, etc. I do feel like I have the basics down and I go through the past year learning by myself through creating, experimenting, classes, Youtube videos, and even selling my things bit by bit.  It's great and all but I'm really hoping to step up my knowledge and skill, and hopefully maybe move towards being masterful of my craft. Maybe a more immersive experience.

With it, I am thinking of a possibility to go to Japan and try to get myself an apprenticeship in Nerikomi Pottery, which is the specialty/niche I'm trying to work towards. I do understand that It is not common, but just if I can make it happen,

  1.  In apprenticeships such as these, how long would it usually take from start to finish? I know traditionally they could take a very long time, 10 years even, but how about nowadays for a foreigner?
  2. Would I be expected to pay for housing and my own food for the length of the apprenticeship? Do we maybe get allowances for living costs in return for my help around the studio, or are living costs completely my own responsibility?
  3. What was the process like to get accepted as an apprentice, are we expected to showcase anything beforehand? (portfolios, etc). Do I already have to be super good at the skill (Nerikomi) in order to get accepted?
  4. Are there things I should maybe note If I'm interested in making this a reality? Does anyone have an experience of an apprenticeship in Japan?

English is not my first language so I'm sorry if there are grammar or language mistakes. I'd appreciate any input from anyone. Thanks so much!

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Hi Nabila!

Good questions.

Learning through apprenticeship is still a thing (e.g. Florian Gadsby — florian gadsby), however, am not recalling any regular contributors to this forum having served an apprenticeship...

You might get some ideas through taking a leisurely trip - a fact finding vacation - through the areas you're interested in? If so, my guess would be that the apprentices you meet would be your best source of information, and the Masters a close second, eh?

Meanwhile, try "ceramic apprenticeship in Japan" search string; Google returns a long reading list!

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Hello Nabila, 

I recently took a weekend workshop with Tom Hoadely https://thomashoadley.com who does beautiful nerekomi work. I believe that he spent time in Japan although I think it was years if not decades ago. I only know him from the workshop & it was just two days, so I can't facilitate any connection between the two off you, but maybe if you reach out to him via his website he can point you in the right direction. 


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