Tomizawa Mamoru and His Great Passion for Vietnamese Pottery

Although Tomizawa Manoru is a native of Japan, he has a great passion for Vietnamese pottery. With a desire to promote the unique Vietnamese craft to international friends, he has opened pottery classes in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 1995, Tomizawa Mamoru decided to leave his homeland to join a Japanese non-governmental organisation on education and tourism to work in Asian countries.

Arriving in Vietnam, Tomizawa was amazed at the diverse and colourful culture of regions in this country and was especially impressed by the beauty of Bat Trang pottery products and the exquisite workmanship of the potters. He became passionate about Vietnamese pottery.

Tomizawa Mamoru. Photo: Thong Hai/VNP

Tomizawa Mamoru makes a piece of pottery with his skillful hands. Photo: Thong Hai/VNP

The Overland Club pottery class attracts a lot of domestic and foreign trainees. Photo: Thong Hai/VNP

Enameling a piece of pottery. Photo: Thong Hai/VNP

Some pottery products made by Tomizawa Mamoru and trainees at the Overland Club. Photo: Thong Hai/VNP

Initiating from the idea of introducing the Vietnamese craft to international friends, Tomizawa established the Overland Club in Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City in 2001. After six consecutive months of both studying by himself, and learning from artisans and different information sources, and making plans for organising classes and enrolling trainees, he successfully opened his club. Thanks to his experience in the tourism sector, Tomizawa had no difficulty introducing his club to foreign tourists so the club now becomes a favourite destination of foreign tourists to Ho Chi Minh City.

The Overland Club, with its unique pottery space, has become a familiar space to many tourists to Ho Chi Minh City because it brings them really interesting experiences, relaxing moments and a chance to expose their ability, creativeness and aesthetic tastes. Here, they are taught the techniques of making pottery, from clay kneading, the first stage which is very important because it decides the quality of finished products, to shape forming, drying, enameling and baking. All require dexterity, patience and creativeness. Whether making a simple or complicated product, the trainee must put his whole heart and soul into it.

Leandro Marcelino from Spain who attended a class at the club for over one year is very interested in the trade and now works as a collaborator at the club. He also developed a website to sell his pottery products.

Pottery made by the Overland Club trainees:

Besides organising pottery training classes, the club also opened a “showroom” to display products of trainees and coordinates with MOF, a Japanese Café, to organise monthly events, attracting the participation of a large number of local students, overseas students and foreigners.

With real activities, the Overland Club serves as a bridge for cultural exchange of countries and makes a contribution to promoting Vietnamese culture to the world.

Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat
Photos: Thong Hai