Local's voice Norihiro and Noriko Takimoto

Norihiro and Noriko Takimoto

Studio RIZOMU (pottery)

Q. Can you tell us about your pottery class for exchange students?

We first started this pottery class in 2012, around that time, exchange students started coming to Higashikawa. We basically make vivid colored plates using the mixture of white, pink, blue and brown clay. I heard that exchange students are using plates they made when they serve their food at home. That makes me happy.

In the early times, exchange students were more energetic, and some of them came to visit my studio on foot even though it takes about an hour from their dormmitory. Recently, as we have more classes with smaller groups, so I can teach them the beauty of the pottery properly. Thanks to those students, now we have our pottery manual in 7 different languages. It's all translated by foreign students.

The pottery manual in 7 languages

Q. The interaction with exchange students through pottery classes.

Whenever I go overseas, I always post on facebook “I will go to Thailand! Could somebody please be my interpreter?” in advance. Every time some of them reply to me and they become my interpreter and show me around. If I was alone, I could only have very limited experiences, but if I go with students, they will find cheap and delicious local restaurants and take me to places only locals know. I still keep in touch with them and it makes me reassured to have friends from all over the world.

I cannot imagine this without having exchange students in Higashikawa. They bring excitement and joy to our life.

Q. Stories with exchange students?

I can be friends with them pretty quickly. I make a funny face when I teach them pottery. They start smiling when taking pictures together.

They are already intense because they came from other countries, and they think the potters are great people, so making funny faces breaks ice. We smile and we can open our hearts to each other. Some of them come here by bike, and some of them just surprise visit us, and I love those visitors. Coupe of years ago, we held a potluck party with 20 exchange students and 10 Japanese people at the studio. It has been a while so I miss that. I want them to just drop by at the studio more often. We can walk on a deep snow with the snowshoes on, and in summer we can do canoeing in the pond in front of the studio. There are infinite possibilities in the Higashikawa, which surrounded by nature.

My wife and I actually were in a Vietnamese movie, and we walked down the red carpet. We were in the limelight next to the leading star. The movie producer has studied Japanese and photography in Higashikawa so he decided to film here. I got really excited walking down the red carpet.

Q. A quick word for people who wants to come to Higashikawa to learn Japanese?

This is the countryside so if you have motivation, you can do more things here than the city. The city has lots of temptations bur Higashikawa has lots of cultural experience classes so you can have fun here. This is the place people are welcoming new people and new environment!

You can go to the Asahikawa airport in ten minutes by car, and there is Asahikawa city (with 360,000 citizens) as a neighboring town. We did not think there were no better places so we moved in here. It feels like you are in northern Europe, and the air is fresh and comfortable place to live.