Global Ceramics Community Comes Together for Japan

Potter Euan Craig and his family together again after a terrifying ordeal.

Potter Euan Craig and his family together again after a frightening day.

The news out of Japan seems to grow more heartbreaking by the day, and like many all over the world, we have been trying to determine the best way to help. Over the past 10 days, we have been gathering information on options for helping from a variety of sources. Not surprisingly, the global pottery community has been very active in trying to help their Japanese colleagues and friends: An online auction, Handmade for Japan, starts tomorrow; a fund has been set up by the Leach Pottery in England; The Mashiko Pottery Foundation has been set up to help potters in the area. See Ways to Help for more details.


We are also sharing a harrowing firsthand account of the earthquake from our friend Euan Craig (blogger Euan the Potter). Euan lives in the historical pottery town of Mashiko, where Shoji Hamada set up his pottery and lived until his death in 1978. Mashiko and its pottery community were hit hard by the Earthquake, with all of the climbing kilns damaged, not to mention the looming unknowns of the nuclear crisis. As Euan told me, “It would be much easier to deal with if this was just an earthquake.”


Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this disaster. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.




Ways to Help



Damaged kiln in Mashiko.

Damaged kiln in Mashiko.

Mashiko Pottery Fund

Ken Matsuzaki, a renowned potter from Mashiko, is working with the Mayor of Mashiko to set up a foundation to help potters affected by the disaster.


For more information, please visit

Akio Takamori. Click to enlarge.

Akio Takamori. Click to enlarge.

Handmade for Japan Auction

Handmade for Japan is an online auction of unique, handmade art donated by generous artists throughout North America and Japan. The auction will be held March 24, 8:00pm EST – March 27, 8:00pm EST through eBay’s Giving Works program, which is partnered with MissionFish. To participate go here: One hundred percent of the auction’s net proceeds will be donated to Global Giving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Handmade For Japan aims to raise over $25,000 for Global Giving efforts.


Handmade for Japan was borne out of concern for Japan’s residents immediately following the disaster by Japanese-American ceramic artist, Ayumi Horie. She was soon joined in her efforts by US-based Japanese citizen, Ai Kanazawa Cheung, and by Kathryn Pombriant Manzella, a former resident of Japan. All three members of the Handmade For Japan team maintain deep ties to the country.


Shoko Teruyama. Click to enlarge.

Within two days of the idea’s conception, Handmade For Japan has secured the participation of prominent artists and craftspeople throughout North America and Japan including Jun Kaneko, Nancy Blum, Akio Takamori, Takashi Hinoda, and Lisa Congdon. In addition, in the same forty-eight hour time period HFJ’s Facebook page ( gathered the attention and approval of over 2,300 members, many offering their own art as well as publicity for the event through their social networking efforts.


Leach Pottery

The Leach Pottery, founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada in England, has set up an Earthquake relief fund:


Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF)

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) strongly encourages supporting the first responders and wants to pass along Network for Good’s list of some of them:


The Japan Society

The Japan Society has set up a fund for Earthquake relief. 100% of funds raised in the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will go to Japanese and American grassroots organizations on the frontlines of the relief and recovery effort in Japan.


We are Safe
by Euan Craig
Maskiko, Japan


Euan’s Craig’s earthquake damaged kitchen.

We are safe. My heart goes out to the many who are not. Aftershocks still shake our home, but we have food and emergency water…as I write the house shudders once again…the power returned late this afternoon and I can contact you and let you know that we are safe.

Yesterday afternoon I was in the studio putting handles on some vessels, when the floor shifted under my feet as if I were riding a train. The house began to rattle and shake, pots began to fall from the shelves and the vibration became a roar. I opened the door and rushed outside, turning back to look at the house as I went. It was swaying, like bamboo in the wind. I turned to see the kiln chimney swing left and right, somehow not collapsing but widening cracks appearing up its length. When the roof tiles came sliding off the roof I began to run; the children were at school.

I ran the seven hundred yards to the primary school, the children were already in the middle of the…the house shakes again as I write…play ground, the teachers herding them to safety. The children are crying and… my god that is another earthquake…it’s OK, we thought we might need to get the kids out of their beds…that wasn’t an after shock, that was another earthquake…the teachers were trying to contact people on their mobiles but there was no service. I can see Canaan and Rohan, they are safe. The ground is still moving like a raft, the teachers tell me parts of the ceiling have fallen in the school but the children and staff are all evacuated, accounted for, and safe. Rohan’s teacher has a son at the preschool with Sean, I tell her I am going there and tell the boys to stay with their teachers. I run.


The preschool is a kilometer and a half further away. As I run down the road I see other houses with roofs gone, stone walls strewn across the road, stone storage houses collapsing. I was crying…I am crying now… past the police station, past the aged home where the staff are wheeling invalids out into the car park, I jump the fence and there is Sean in the play ground with all his friends. The teachers comfort them, the children cry, I hug Sean as he bravely wipes the tears from his little face. I talk to his teacher, the preschool is new and there seems to be no damage, the cell phones don’t work. I tell her the primary children are all safe. Sora is still at the junior High, three quarters of a kilometer up the hill. I tell Sean to stay with his friends, I tell him to look after his teacher while I go to check on Sora. I run.


The damaged back wall of Euan’s Craig’s house and studio.

Roofing tiles are scattered across the road, the metal railing on the curb is twisted, there are cracks appearing across the road, a tree falls. As I reach the back gate of the school I can see Sora’s teacher crossing towards the music room. I call out his name, he sees me and raises his arms to form a circle above his head; Sora is safe. Beyond the gate, across the playing fields, the students are sitting on the ground, the teacher giving them instructions. Many of the children are crying. The teachers tell me the ceilings have come down in the high school too, but the students and staff are all accounted for and safe. They can’t contact anyone, they ask me if the damage is worse at the high school because it is at the top of the hill, I tell them it’s the same all over, but the preschool and primary school are all safe and unharmed. I hug Sora. The ground moves again, I can see the clock tower swinging back and forth…another aftershock, will they never stop?…again, bigger…has it stopped? I’m not sure…I tell Sora to stay with her teacher also, as I don’t know whether it’s safe to go home. I retrace my steps, back to the preschool, tell them the high school kids are safe, hug Sean again, borrow the teachers cell phone and try to phone Mika. There is no service. Mika is in Mashiko at the museum where she now works. I can only pray.


I leave Sean with his teacher once again and return to the primary school. I tell Rohan’s teacher that her son, all the preschool and high school kids are safe. I see the relief on her face. Parents are coming to the school now, taking their children home. Some houses are untouched. I take Canaan and Rohan…another aftershock… and we walk to the preschool. Rohan forgot to grab his safety helmet and Canaan has given him his own…yet another…I praise him for protecting his little brother. I hug them both. I leave the boys at the preschool with Sean, and go to get Sora. One of the mothers of the children’s school mates picks us up in her van and we get the boys and return home.


The house and kiln are still standing. A cold wind is chilling the children. I set up a tin stove in the back yard and go inside the house alone to get the kids ski ware. The inside of the house is a mess of broken pottery and glass. Sora looks after the boys outside while I assess the damage. No power, no water, no phone. The roof is a shambles, the back wall of the studio and house is shattered but still standing, the bathroom is a disaster. I get the kids a warm drink and some snacks, then start to clean up inside before it gets too dark. As dusk approaches Mika arrives home. Mashiko was hit hard too, the museum and many houses. All the climbing kilns are damaged but there seem to be no casualties. There was a bus of American tourists at the museum when the earthquake hit and she couldn’t leave until they were safe. We are all in tears as we hug. We are safe. We are home.


We get the house functional, I rejoin the stove chimneys and we get the house warm. We break out the emergency water supplies and I get a hot meal on the table by candlelight. We send the kids to bed in their clothes, just in case we need to evacuate in the middle of the night. Aftershocks continue, sometimes minutes apart, sometimes half an hour. As we listen to the radio a picture of how wide the devastation is, and how lucky we have been, begins to form.


After a sleepless night, we face a new day. The town is providing emergency water and food at the town hall. Friends come to share what they have, we clean up as best we can and go to help others. We finally contact Mika’s family, they are safe.


Houses can be repaired or rebuilt, kilns too. Pottery can be replaced, remade. Stuff doesn’t really matter. We’ll manage somehow. My family, my loved ones, are safe and sound. They sleep in the next room as I write this to you. I thank God. We are the lucky ones, and my heart and prayers go out to those who are not.


Editor’s note: Euan has posted updates on his blog since this original post. Please visit to hear how he and his family are doing.



  • We are always praying for you in in Uganda.God.

  • Erna H.

    Dear Mister Craig, reading your story is realy heartbreaking!
    I will share this story with all my Belgian Ceramic friends,end encorage them to make a donation to the Leach pottery eurthquake fund. Our thoughts are withe you.

  • I have already sent my gift through I-tunes and wish it could have been more. I am a ceramics teacher in California and the devastation breaks my heart. I will copy this and pass it on to my students in Adult Education. My love to you all and my prayers that this nightmare ends very soon.

  • Socorro H.

    The world was indeed in shock and terror when the earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster hit the shores of Japan. Like all Americans, I was glued to the networks, watching the emerging news coverage. I felt helpless. Suddenly, I recalled, that the week before the earthquake I had signed up to join as a volunteer with the local American Red Cross, Highland Chapter, North Carolina. The first scheduled meeting had been scheduled, it was the day after the quake hit. I remember in the lobby, volunteers were hustling between rooms, they were already preparing, waiting for instructions from Japan. I was deeply moved. In my own small way, I hope to assist in crisis situations like this or Katrina. It’s just one way that we can all be of help. Many thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan for healing and recovery. Folks Join your local Red Cross.

  • Mary D.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to get your story out. I’m sharing this info with my friends, students and customers. We will give what we can. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Heaven bless you all and keep you safe. Thank you for sharing your story. I will give what I can, and hope it helps.

  • Diana M.

    we should all be humbled by what Mother Nature gives, and takes away. Thank you for sharing your story. You and your family have been fortunate in surviving such a disaster. There now seem to be a handful of relief efforts established on your behalf, by the clay community at large. I hope that all of us who read your tale will be moved and encouraged to send along some assistance in some form or another. Perhaps at NCECA next week, those efforts will reach out even more to provide assistance for rebuilding.

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