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Iku Shibata built his own wood fired kiln.  He harvests the wood from around his home and seasons it at the studio.  Firing the kiln takes days and is around-the-clock work. Kanako poses in front of Iku's studio for a photo for Helen's students; they will visit here in 2008.  Iku designed the studio and built it wiith the help of friends.  You enter into a gallery lined with his works. Behind the gallery is a large studio space.  The windows look out on a tree lined creek.  What an inspiring space! Tucked into a corner near the ceiling Iku has a small Shinto shrine.  It guards his work area and his tools. Here are two examples of Iku's work from his electric kiln.  He works in stoneware and uses many iron oxide glazes for a natural effect. Sunlight and shadows bring out the textures in two new works as they dry. Iku's mother's garden has many interesting features, including this ceramic bowl which is a basin for a fountain.  Its color and texture fit naturally into the ferns and rocks. Iku told us that the garden is over 100 years old, at least.  No one kept records and now they wish that they had.  He said that as a child he took it for granted and he did not appreciate its great beauty. The Tajimi area has been famous for tea ceremony ceramics for over 400 years.  Iku took us on a tour of the ceramic museums in the area.  The new Gifu Museum of Modern Ceramic Art is built into a hillside and connected to the parking lot with a wonderful walkway over a ravine. The walkway opens onto a broad plaza with sweeping views of the countryside around it.  Kanako and Ryo check it out. The museum wraps around a sunken courtyard with a waterfall that descend three stories down terraces of multi-colored stones.  This is the view from the inside corridors. The main part of the museum floats on a special suspension system developed to ride out an earthquake and protect the fragile ceramics.  This is is view of the suspension system from the meeting rooms below.