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Onishi Impressions

Onishi, Japan 2016

While living in Onishi, a rural mountain village in central Japan, elders invited marksearch to create a welcoming mural for the old sake brewery. Community events are held on the transformed brewery grounds. Onishi translates as ‘Ogre Rock’, a symbol appearing throughout the town. Once an important point along a regional silk trading route, Onishi thrived in the early 1980s supplying large, colorful river stones to gardens throughout the country.

Using traditional carpentry methods and reused materials, we fashioned a mobile studio reminiscent of old-style food vendor carts. We visited shops, homes, civic centers, and the school, inviting residents to make clay tiles expressing the town’s unique qualities. Over 250 tiles were fired in the community’s traditional anagama (wood fired) kiln.

The mural’s meandering design is based on the area’s ancient pedestrian highway, the Kanna River and winter cherry blossom branches that thrive in the surrounding hillsides.