Calling All Ceramicists: Win ¥10 Million for Your Art at the International Ceramics Competition


As the 11th International Ceramics Competition begins calling for entries, the organizers have also announced big plans for the event including a sizeable cash prize for the Grand Prix winner, and the decision to involve former pro footballer Hidetoshi Nakata as the festival’s general producer.

Held once every three years since 1986, the International Ceramics Festival aims to promote a global exchange of design and culture. Japan has long been revered for its original pottery, and by inviting artists and enthusiasts to visit Mino – a region in Gifu Prefecture that’s famed for its ceramics production – the hope is not only to promote the country’s own artworks but to push back at the age of mass consumption we now find ourselves in.

The next festival and competition is set to be held in 2017, but the organizers will begin accepting entries from ceramicists around the world from November 1, 2016 to January 10, 2017. The application process is fairly simple, either by post or online at, and prizes start at ¥10-million – reportedly the highest in the world for this type of competition – and go down to ¥100,000 for seven Special Judges’ Awards.

With a focus on increasing the festival’s reach to an international audience, the mayor of Tajimi City, Masanori Furukawa, announced on Friday, July 8, that they have chosen Nakata as general producer for the event. While this may seem an unusual choice to some, if you’ve been following Nakata’s career since retiring from football 10 years ago, you’ll know that he’s branched out into various projects that support traditional Japanese culture and crafts. In 2015, for example, he established the Japan Craft Sake Company, and currently works to promote local sake to the rest of the world (read our recent interview with him for more details).

International Ceramics Competition
Hidetoshi Nakata (right) next to Mayor Masanori Furukawa at a press conference to announce his position as general producer of the International Ceramics Festival 2017.

When asked about his main aim as general producer of the event, Nakata emphasized that he wants to promote Japan’s culture. “There are many wonderful ceramic works here in Japan, but the festival is not just about communicating to the world the appeal of these works; it’s about inspiring the world to come and congregate here in Japan, and in the Mino region. Also, I think it’s important to recognize that, these days, people view handmade objects as luxury items. Since we find many beautiful handcrafted items in Japan, I think this is a great opportunity to show off the beauty of these pieces.”

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