Until this month, I haven’t owned a single Japanese bonsai pot. So, this trip to Japan I was determined to fix that. After visiting two of Kyoto’s bonsai nurseries and a number of ceramic shops, I realised that Kyoto is not the best place in Japan to shop for bonsai pots, unless you are specifically after Kyoto ware pots (Kiyomizu yaki) used for small bonsai. I also had to make a mental adjustment when it came to prices. Japanese put high value on things made by hand. For me, the adjustment was easy. Being a potter, I can guess how many hours it took to make a pot. Once I divide the price by the number of hours, I could see that the hourly rate is quite reasonable. However, all these calculations don’t make handmade Japanese pots more affordable. Top left pot in the image below is a good example. It is a hand-formed and hand decorated pot by a Kyoto based potter Takao Koyo. The pot measures 10.4 × 8.2 × 3.3 cm and it cost me AU$145. As for the other small pots in the image, bottom left is a pot made in China to Japanese specifications (imported by Kinbon). I must admit that Chinese mass produced pots in Japan are of much higher quality than what we get in Australia. The pot on the right is by a Kyoto potter Syosai. It wasn't expensive, but I liked the glaze.
Both Takao Koyo and Syosai also make more traditional Kiyomizu yaki bonsai pots where white surface of the pot is decorated with thin line paintings. Those pots are usually more expensive and can cost anywhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars despite their small size.