Amanda Tong had not planned on moving to Japan.

Known for her marbled hand-thrown porcelain works, the 30-year-old ceramic artist had always been interested in Japanese arts and crafts. She had flown in from Hong Kong in early 2020 to visit fellow ceramicist and partner Jun Matsumura, testing the waters to see if she might enjoy working between Japan and her home city.

Neither of them had counted on the pandemic. When Japan and Hong Kong’s borders slammed shut, Tong found herself unexpectedly marooned in rural Saitama, far away from family, friends and her studio. She would have to start over.