Monday, December 22, 2014

Amazing Korean Tours: Going Beyond Ceramics

When first light begins to cast long shadows across the peaceful mountains of Korea and a single crane soars past the willowy bamboo lining a mountain stream, you know instantly why this beautiful land was once called “The Land of the Morning Calm”.  
Morning Earth Korea wants to help you capture that moment and more in this serene yet amazing land called Korea.

  The Lotus Lantern Festival
But Korea is also a vibrant culture alive with energy as you see in this Lotus Lantern Festival image.  It is this Korean spirit that has advanced Korea so quickly over the last 50 years to become an important player in the world's economy.
Morning Earth Korea has designed exceptional and personal arts and culture tours to Korea.  Now we are expanding our efforts to help you, whatever your interests, make important contacts in Korea. You know what they are.  Let us help.
Our cultural tours have taken our guests to the studios of outstanding artists who’s classic and contemporary insights enlighten us and help forge the path for their art.  In addition, we try to schedule those tours so that our tour participants can witness one or more of Korea’s excellent festivals and take you to Korea’s culturally enriching places as well.  Our goal is for each Morning Earth Korea tour participant to touch the heart of Korea’s wonderful, vibrant and spiritual culture through Korea's arts and cultural activities.
Our purpose for designing and providing these tours was not for great financial gain.  Rather, it is to introduce you to the Korea we found in our many travels there and have come to love.  During our more than forty years of cultural research and traveling to Korea for more than thirty years we focused primarily on Korean ceramics.  Over he years our research has embraced other arts. Now we have broadened that approach to include many aspects of Korea’s rich culture.  That is why professional travel agents have said that our tours are exceptional.  One Korean travel agent even called our tours,  ". . . perhaps the most culturally rich tours available to Korea."  We hope to reach that goal and to be exceptional in quality and reasonable in price.
There is a debate among those who travel to Korea as to which time is best to be there.  Should you be in Korea in the springtime when blossoms are in bloom and tea is being processed in the southern mountains or should you be in Korea when the autumn leaves are in all their full glory and you can find softly billowing whiffs of smoke from the wood kilns nestled throughout the mountains.
Whatever time you decide to be there, you will find Korea an amazing country to visit.  It is rich in culture, strong in character, deep in its spirituality, incredible in the quality of its artists and ready to welcome you.  Contact us to learn how you can develop your personal tour to Korea or join a group on a special adventure.
Important Note for Businesses:
Recently we made the final connections with experienced business leaders in Korea who stand ready to help you do business in Korea.  I know this is an odd place to announce this but If you find this announcement here, I know you are interested in Korea.  Whatever your purpose for traveling to Korea with a group, as an individual or business team we now have in place the network that can help you make the connections you need to make the connections you need and visit the places that interest you most.  Contact us. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Invitation to Tour

Updated Jan. 2015
Some years ago I received a letter from the renowned ceramic artist Bernard Leach.  As you may know, he was closely related to Japanese ceramics.  In his letter he wrote, ”One might think that my greatest love is Japanese ceramics but it is Korean ceramics that moves me most.”

Ulsan Onggi Potter (Double click images to enlarge)

Our ceramic tours to Korea are unparalleled.  On them you will meet many of Korea’s Intangible Cultural Assets and other outstanding artists in ceramics and possibly other fields.  Our more that 35 years of experience traveling to Korea has provided us the opportunity to meet many of Korea’s most renown and interesting ceramic artists.  For years before his recent passing we visited the last authentic roof tile maker in Korea who was consultant for the hand made roof tiles that replaced the tiles lost in the Namdaemun tragic fire.  I mention this because it exemplifies our insider knowledge on exceptional artists.  We personally know and visit the single person designated as a National Intangible Cultural Asset in Sagijang (ceramics), and the humble and spiritual tea ware artist who built his home with raw clay and trees he cut from the mountains. A personal friend is an internationally acclaimed tea bowl artist whose work is in international collections.  Of this Korean chawan artist's work the former director of Tokyo National Museum acclaimed, "I have not seen, until now, a piece of work that comes close to presenting the perfection of the old. I hope to keep his work close to my side always."
We visit the onggi potters who in 2010 hosted the most exciting onggi exposition in Korea’s history, and the dynamic contemporary ceramic artist some call 'The Picasso of Korean ceramics'.  You can meet them and many more as we explore how ceramics is now and has been a binding thread keeping Korea’s culture alive and vibrant.

   The Kiln at Gangjin
You will touch the heart of Korean ceramics as you travel throughout this beautiful land and meet its wonderful ceramic artists.  In the process, you might discover that you agree with Bernard Leach.

 Cheon Han Bong ICA
During our numerous ceramic research trips to Korea we have come to know many of Korea’s more significant ceramic artists.   These contacts enable us to introduce our Morning Earth Tour guests, to Korea’s Intangible Cultural Assets in ceramics and other fields.  In addition we have come to know some of Korea’s more distinguished contemporary ceramic artists as well.

Sangho Shin
Ceramics is everywhere in Korea.  Korea hosts the GOCEF Ceramic Biennale every two years in the cities of Gwangju, Icheon and Yeoju.  Their museums are open all the time. Gangjin, where the "best celadon in the world" has been made has a great museum complex and astounding artists. Ulsan has the largest onggi village in the world.  Mungyeong, Korea's tea bowl capital, is full of great potters.  Dotted throughout Korea are magnificent ceramic artists.  In addition, Intangible Cultural Assets from many other fields can easily be found. The opportunity to be immersed in Korea's rich culture, especially clay, is undeniable.

International Artist's Workshop at KOCEF

Park Chan Soo, ICA Buddhist Woodcarver

Ulsan Onggi
Imagine meeting some of the best ceramic artists in Korea in their homes and studios.  Imagine meeting personally with artists who have been designated as Korea's Intangible Cultural Assets - not just one but many.
Carrying Ulsan Onggi

Then imagine being there when a Ulsan onggi potter forms a large jar in a few minutes before your eyes and without hesitation lifts it with his friend and carries it to its drying area.  Korea awaits as you meet an art culture you can believe in.

Among the many adventures, you will visit is the most important teabowl village in Korea - Mungyeong.  This 1000-year old ceramic village is now home to three Intangible Cultural Assets in ceramics and many of the best tea ware artists in Korea.  What else?  Wait.  There are many more things ahead.   What I have mentioned represents just a small portion of what is possible on a Korean Ceramics Tour. 
Join this site to keep informed or contact us on Facebook.

Did you miss the 2013 GOCEF World Ceramic Expositions?  It is never too late to visit their exciting exhibits.  Join our 2015 GOCEF World Ceramic Expositions tour and we will make that happen.  
Can't make the tour at that time?  Plan a tour with some friends or even by yourself.  We have people on the ground in Korea who speak English and are waiting to welcome you.  The price is not much different than a group tour.  It is not too early to begin planning for your tour to visit Korea at a different time in 2015, 2016 or 2017.  See below for more information.
Our tours are priced as reasonably as possible often at no profit.   Our motivation is not money but the satisfaction that you will begin to understand the depth and beauty of Korea by meeting its people and experiencing its culture.

Note:  Some of our artist visits are by special invitation and not available without us as your host.  
We are not a commercial travel agency.  We are ceramic artists just trying to give back a little.  Please try to be patient as we attempt to continue our own work, maintain a few web sites and blogs and organize our tours.  We are very excited about our Korean ceramic tours.   Ask someone who has been on one.  (See below.) 
What is special about our Korean Ceramic Tour 2015?.  
In addition to visits to the many important artists, this tour will include a ceramic workshop, and the Korean tea ceremony.  This is a very unusual year.  Because of changes in their schedules, this year we are able to visit two of Korea's most prestigious ceramic festivals: The GOCEF World Ceramic Expositions and the Mungyeong Chassabal Festival (Tea bowl). This is a very rare opportunity.
Important Note: Please check with us to see if the two festival opportunity is really happening.  New festival schedules can change things very quickly in Korea.  Developing a tour to go to places is quite easy but scheduling a tour to visit people and even often shifting festival times is quite different.
 Contact us to learn more about our Spring 2015 tour.
“To read is to know.  To travel is to understand.” 

Individual and Small Group Private tours.!!
We have some exciting developments.  Morning Earth Korea now offers Four types of Korean Ceramic Tours:   1. Group Tours like our Spring 2015 Ceramics Tour, 2. Personal Group Tours, 3. Personal Tours and 4. Personal Workshop Experiences in Korea with or without a tour.  I'm sure that you can imagine what Group and the Personal Tours are but what is a Personal Workshop Experience?  We are very enthusiastic about Personal Workshop Experiences.  In brief, they are opportunities for one, two or possibly a few ceramic artists and/or ceramic teachers, who work with students at any level, the opportunity to experience personal workshops provided by some of the finest ceramic artists in Korea.  These can be one day, a week or more in length and they can cover nearly every aspect of Korean ceramic processes.  Each personal workshop experience  is uniquely developed just for you and your friend(s).  It may or may not involve a tour.  That choice is up to you.  We never accept more than four and recommend just two participants as some experiences are not available for more.  We also accept single participants in many cases.  These personal workshop opportunities are not available for those with very little or no ceramic experience. Contact us.  
However, we believe that anyone, who would like to experience Korean culture, would greatly enjoy our Group or Personal Tours.  Are you a family, ceramic society, Korean meet-up group, college ceramic department or other group of any size?  A Personal Group tour may be what you are looking for.  The tour's content can be very diverse to fit your group's interests even if you are not interested in ceramics.   In fact we have arranged tours for businesses that have nothing to do with ceramics connecting them to the right person in Korea.  Do you need a guide to speak a language you understand?  Contact us now to arrange your special personal tour.          
If you would like to learn more or reserve your spot on an amazing tour of any kind, please send us an email stating your interest. There is no obligation with that inquiry or reservation. Please "follow" this blog as we develop our next Korean Ceramic Tour and introduce you to some of the ceramic artists, places and events you and your friends will witness.  Contact us. 
We now have a Facebook page for Morning Crane Tea. You will find that posts there go far beyond tea.  We are also working on a website for Morning Earth Korea where you will be able to find much of what we are doing in one place.  That should be available soon.  Thank you for your interest.
Incidentally, and as a little 'bonus', the title photo of this blog comes from one of the oldest kilns in Korea that is still being used.  It is in Mungyeong.  To learn more about that kiln click here.  Use the "back" button to return to this site.
Would you like a few testimonies?  We hosted the Gangjin Experience tours for several years, click here to read what our guests have said.  Thank you for joining us.