Week 6

This week was full of fun activities and hard work! At the beginning of the week Motoe, Neha, Rory, and I decided to go to a music festival in a town near Onishi since we missed the local one. It was so much fun! There was tons of good food, little festival games, and amazing entertainment. For food, I decided to have Takoyaki (little flour balls with octopus) and some cold pineapple in a stick. For the entertainment part, the Taiko drums performance was incredible. People learn to play this type of drums for years! It was incredible the precision and strength of the performers. They played for long periods of time non stop. Check them out!

The next day we visited Motoe’s house. A Shrine! Miyogi Shrine was an unforgettable experience. Motoe received us and gave us a nice and personalized tour. She also did some prayers for all of us and gifted each of us an omamori. The Shrine was located in a mountain surrounded by water, birds, and nature. I felt so nice and at peace. The combination of the nature and architecture of the shrine was beautiful. After that we feed Motoe’s fish and spend the rest of the afternoon talking and snacking. When we got back to Onishi, Rory, Neha, Onozawa, and I went to the Chinese restaurant. It was great!

The following days we started working on preparing everything for the exhibition. We had to clean the exhibition space and help the artists set up their artwork. We also had to translate their statements and prepare their exhibition cards. It was a few days of sweating, printing, cutting, and cleaning. It was great to see the end result. The exhibition went really well! There was also an ikebana performance in the exhibit. It was a beautiful show.

Week 5

Tokyo week!

Rory and I decided to take off most of the week to travel after a long Anagama week. Traveling to Tokyo was incredible! It definitely was a week full of exploring and learning. The city is very interesting and there’s so many things to do and see. Getting to Tokyo was pretty easy. The public transportation is very efficient, clean, and easy to navigate. We had to take a bus and 2 trains to get to the city. We got there in the evening and the city life is incredible. There were so many restaurants, cafes, shops, and bakeries around the hotel we stayed in.

The first day in Tokyo we decided to visit a Pokemon center! I’m a big fan of Pokemon and visiting the center was a must-to. The center was full of cute plushies, stationery, clothes, socks, stickers, key holders, hats, and everything you can imagine. I got some plushies of my favorite pokemons and bought some gifts for my siblings and friends. After that we visited the Pokemon cafe! which was right next to the center. The cafe had cute pokemon themed pastries and drinks. It was sooo cute! After the Pokemon morning we spend the afternoon walking around the city and visited a beautiful Shrine! Check out the pictures of this day!

On the second day we decided to visit Takeshita street. This street is very famous for it’s crepes, animal cafes, and countless clothing stores. The street has a store for different fashion styles. It was very busy but you could find so many interesting and cool items. After that we visited Shibuya. This street is a very commercial section of the city and famous for its crossing system. We also got to see the statue of Hachiko! On the evening, we visited Akihabara. A famous part of the city known for its anime themed stores. It was so cool and fun to visit! I also bought so many things at “Don Quijote” store. This store was full of everything you can imagine. Food, stationery, plushies, socks, clothes, make up, hair stuff, and more. I went back there so many times that the people who worked there already knew who I was! It was a lot of fun.

Finally, on the third day we visited Senso-ji temple. This is a Buddhist temple in Asakusa. It was also a busy location but it was so beautiful and full of life. After this, we went back to the train station to return to Onishi!

This week was incredible and so much fun. Stay tune for the last 2 weeks of my trip!

Week 4

Anagama week!

This week was a lot of hard work and up & downs to the mountain. The week started with organizing and transporting the pots to the kiln firing. I was assigned to keep everyone’s work safe. Yes, I was in the back of a truck making sure non of the pots break. It looks like an easy job but the pressure to keep someone else’s CERAMIC art work safe can be stressful!

The Anagama started and people were having fun, eating, and talking around the firing. I went a few times before my official shift to get more familiar with the area. The anagama was located at the top of a mountain. A 20 minute drive from Onishi. I met some people who were volunteering to help with the firing. It was a good time!

Meanwhile in the office, Rory finished the official exhibition poster and we ordered tons of copies to hand them around town. Take a look at the final poster!

On Friday night Rory and I were the assistants for the night shift. From 12am to 6pm we had to help Mark and Neha with the Anagama firing. It was such an interesting experience. The ride to the mountain was so much fun. It was dark and raining (a lot). We arrived safely to the firing. However, 3 cars got stuck in the mud.

Our task in the Anagama was to record the temperature changes. Every hour the temperature could only go up by 20C so we had to be strategic with the amount of wood we added to the firing. With talks, snacks, and drinks the night went on very fast. In the morning we went back to Onishi and I slept the whole morning.

Finally, on Sunday night (the last anagama night) we had a barbecue to celebrate! The food was delicious! Check out this fish.

Week 3

Week 3 already?

This week was a lot of learning and fun activities! The week started with a photoshoot for the exhibition flyer. We all decided to take the photos at the river’s waterfall. In the morning (which wasn’t as warm as we thought it was going to be) we went to the river near the house and walk through it to find the perfect spot for the photo. I was a little nervous after Kjell decided to tell us how poisonous the snakes in that river are while we were passing through it with our bare feet. However, no one got bitten and the photoshoot was a success. The river was so refreshing and everyone had a great time! Here’s the picture we’ll be using for the flyer.

The following day I finally decided to try making ceramics. Neha was my teacher that day and she teach me how to do a small bowl without using a wheel. It was so relaxing and entertaining. I did a small bowl and added some flowers and leaves as decoration. I’m still not sure if I want it to be a jewelry holder or an ice cream bowl. I think ice cream bowl is winning right now. Neha was an excellent teacher and we had a fun time.

After finishing the little ceramics workshop, we went back to the house for the second round of artists presentations. The other 4 residents did their self-introductions and we got to know them a little better. It was really cool to see other people’s work. It was very inspiring.

On Wednesday we started working on archives. We’ve been working on developing an archive system for the works the artists donate to the residency. Today we finally got to sort the works and start labeling them. It was a lot of work but Rory and I decided to reward ourselves right after it. We finally went to the town’s sushi restaurant for lunch! It was so good! The owners were very nice with us and it was a really good experience.

After that I went back to the ceramics studio and worked on some pots! This time I used the wheel. This was my first time using the wheel so I was very excited to learn about it. Kjell explained me how to use it and the different techniques to manipulate the clay. It was a lot of fun and I messed up a couple of times but I learned a lot from it. This day I made a rice bowl and a small cup of tea. After that I went on a relaxing walk along the river. It was a fun day!

Thursday was the last day to make pots/clay before we do the anagama. So I decided to do a couple more pots. I ended up doing jewelry holders. My favorite is the cat ring holder! I hope my little cat survives the firing. On the weekend, I had a lot of time to relax! I went on walks, did some grocery shopping, and tried more local food! I’m so excited for the next week and the anagama firing. See you next week!

Week 2

What a hot week! Summer in Japan is no joke. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a hot country!

This week we’ve work on many different things. The week started with self-introduction presentations. We decided that a presentation would be a nice way to get to know everyone. We also decided to have a dinner party to complement the presentations. Before cooking, 4 of the residents (including me) did a brief self introduction with a classic power point presentation. After that, Neha (an artists from India) cooked Indian food for all of us. It was delicious!

During the dinner we talked about the design of the future art exhibition flyer. In the past, artists have come up with very creative and fun design/photography ideas for the flyer. So we had to think of this year’s amazing idea. Since this summer has been remarkable, we all agreed on taking a photo of all the residents in the river’s waterfall “refreshing”. (I will update on how this in the next blog).

This week I was assigned with fixing the studio’s online shop, adding new merch on the instagram shop, and make some posts in the account. It was interesting trying to figure out how “WooComerce” and “Printful” work. Many things have changed after the pandemic. By the end of the week, we fixed the shop and got our first order!

We also worked on creating a system to archive the works that artists donate to the residency. I think this is one of the biggest challenges we have. We’re still working on it. On top of that, we were preparing everything for the ceramics workshop. It was a success! Many locals signed up for the workshop and created beautiful pots, cups, and cats! This was a very warm and fun experience. During the workshop, we took a lot of pictures for social media!

Finally, during my free time this week, I’ve been going on walks, exploring, saying hi to cats, and eating. Here’s some pictures!

Week 1

It’s been almost a week since I got to Japan. So many things have happened!

Traveling and getting to Onishi was definitely an enriching experience. I don’t speak Japanese so I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to get through the airport and use the train system. However, Narita airport is very easy to navigate and there’s always someone willing to help.

Rory and I took 2 trains and a taxi in order to get to Onishi. The train was always on time and navigating the platforms was a little complicated but somehow we didn’t get lost or miss our trains. After a couple of hours we got to the Shiro Oni artists residency! Here, Kjell (owner of the studio) and Mark (returning artists) welcomed us and gave us a tour of the house.

The next morning we met Motoe, a Japanese artist staying in the residency. After breakfasts Kjell gave everyone a tour around the town and to the different studios he owns. He introduced us to the locals. Many of them run their own businesses. There’s nice restaurants, cafes, and other interesting stores. There’s also a small school where there’s no grading system or rules! Kids were having a LOT of fun.

I really like the town! Here’s a small list why:

  • Small town
  • Everyone knows each other
  • Walkable town (there’s sidewalks almost to everywhere)
  • There’s cats everywhere
  • The town is surrounded by mountains
  • There’s 2 rivers
  • There’s nice food available 24/7
  • Most people are nice and kind

Food is really nice here! But if you are looking for something fast and affordable 7eleven is the place to go. There’s one very near the house and it’s an incredible experience (I feel that 7eleven needs it’s own post) The store is very different from the ones in the US. Here you can find so many different things but what it’s remarkable it’s the food. They have really nice to-go food. There’s a variety of options and so far everything I’ve tried has been delicious.

Fressay market is also a good place to find food and to get ingredients to cook. The market is 30 minutes away walking and 15 in bike. They have everything you need to cook a delicious meal! The supermarket was a fun experience!

Finally, we’ve been welcoming new artists to the house and having meetings and dinners together (we had a gyoza party) to plan and organize the workshops and events for July. We have a lot of fun activities to work on. I’ll talk more about it next week! See you soon!


Hello! my name is Luisa Jhong, an international student from Peru. I’m a senior Marketing and Graphic Design major at Illinois Wesleyan University. This summer I’ll be an intern at Shiro Oni Studio in Onishi Japan! I’m so excited for this opportunity 🙂 Follow along as I post more about this journey!