Kyushu on the Rails of Luxury #04

FEATURE

Big dreams realized by
one porcelain craftsman.

The dynamic work of Seigo Nakamura. Each piece exhibits a white so pure it’s almost transparent.

The warm coffee mug sits atop the table with its Seven Stars in Kyushu logo. This modest cup also plays its part in JR Kyushu’s quest for excellence with a hidden story of craftsmanship for the journey.

The first stop on our one-night, two-day getaway is home to some of Japan’s most famous ceramics. Saga Prefecture’s Arita-cho—the origin of the Seven Stars in Kyushu coffee mug.

As Arita Ceramics go, Koraian Seirokugama is a new company, founded in 1966. The most common Arita Ceramics are in the Kakiemon style, which they make with precision and emblazon colorful images. To visit Seirokugama is to immerse oneself in the pure beauty of its white porcelain. These pieces offer a powerful unadulterated presence that one can only appreciate in the gallery.

Seiroku Nakamura, the founder of Koraian Seirokugama, was born in Hasami-cho, Nagasaki Prefecture, where its pottery is on par with Arita Ceramics. Nakamura grew up around pottery and studied under an Arita pottery master to learn his techniques.

His successor, Seigo Nakamura has been spinning the wheel for as long as he can remember, but oddly enough he studied economics at university. He was looking forward to donning a necktie and becoming a part of the corporate machine. His parents never pushed him to take on the family business, but he grew up watching his father at the wheel from dawn until sometimes beyond dusk. His curiosity about the work’s appeal drove him to create as well, which led to the decision to become the successor in the business.

One step into the workshop and one notices its dignified air, which separates it from the peaceful atmosphere of the gallery. After adding water, Nakamura mindfully kneads the clay, then slowly sets the wheel into motion.

“I don’t think about anything when I’m at the wheel. I feel the temperature and texture of the clay, sensitive to how it moves in my hands. It’s not about forcing the clay into a shape; it’s about drawing the shape out from within the clay. That’s the method, ” says Nakamura.

It’s a white that’s almost transparent in a shape to which divinity itself would genuflect. Seigo brings purity to life in his art—a pursuit of listening and understanding the materials and then drawing out their true nature. He will pass this on to the next generation as his father passed it to him. There will always be a place in the world for this level of beauty in ceramics.

Porcelain waiting to be fired. Breathtaking natural curves are the lyrics of beauty the artist writes through the shaping process.

Many pieces including teacups and plates in the workshop.

Porcelain waiting to be fired. Breathtaking natural curves are the lyrics of beauty the artist writes through the shaping process.

Many pieces including teacups and plates in the workshop.

From the Suite 701, passengers can gaze out the large bay window and never miss a moment of the journey.

Seven Stars in Kyushu has continued to grow in popularity since its maiden voyage in 2013. As the number of applicants increase, the crew maintains its high standards. And, today the number of applicants has increased twenty-fold.

The root of the brand’s strength lies in the words that describe it, “Craftsmanship creates the journey of dreams.” Passengers experience this craftsmanship from the flatware to the interior that swathes them throughout their journey. Each piece of the train is a story in itself, and all the pieces come together to tell the grand story of Seven Stars in Kyushu.

Tokyo ranks among the most celebrated metropolises in the world with flashes of neon and the hustle of the city, while Kyoto is Tokyo’s calm sister that’s home to ancient temples, tea ceremonies, and Reames of tradition. When people visit Japan, these two places come to mind, but off the guidebooks, a whole new Japan is waiting to be explored. Seven Stars in Kyushu may not have the glamor of Tokyo or the historical drama of Kyoto, but it’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in a bucolic paradise where one can experience the warmth of people, local flavors, and everything that make Kyushu famous.

Seven Stars in Kyushu is creating the journey of dreams.

Text: Pen Editorial
Photography: Jun Hasegawa

www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.com
Reception for services available between October of 2018 and February of 2019 is scheduled for April of 2018.

Note: All information in this article is current as of September of 2017. The actual details of Seven Stars in Kyushu trips can change as occasion demands.

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