EXPLORING THE POTTERY TOWN OF MASHIKO, JAPAN
If you are tired of living in the concrete jungles especially in Tokyo and Yokohama, you may head north not far away from the Kanto region. Try exploring Japan’s lush countryside without traveling on the road for 24 hours. Just about 2 and a half-hour north of Tokyo, lies Mashiko town, located in the southeast corner of Tochigi Prefecture. This town is not heavily populated and it has spacious greenery that you cannot find in big cities of Japan. It is also known for its pottery called Mashiko yaki.
The town relies heavily on tourism from its ceramic crafts industry through the years but now, different products are starting to gain popularity such as strawberry production, coffee beans production, and different kinds of artwork such as wooden and leather goods. The most popular thing to do here is to try your hand at pottery making. There are a lot of businesses that offer pottery classes to visitors and it is a great, memorable, and fun hobby. Mashiko yaki is beautifully crafted ceramic wares that you can’t see in another city or town in Japan. It is highly recommended to buy a souvenir from Mashiko town.
SHOJI HAMADA MEMORIAL MASHIKO SANKOKAN MUSEUM
It is a memorial hall dedicated to Shoji Hamada who is a potter and living national treasure. The museum showcases his pottery collection, his residence, exhibition hall and most interestingly his climbing kiln and these are all open to the public.
MASHIKO NO MORI AND MT.AMAMAKI
If you are a nature enthusiast you may try hiking here in Mashiko. There are lots of hiking trails here depending on your physical strength. If you are a beginner, you may try Mashiko no Mori, or Mashiko Forest featuring a spacious lawn, playground for kids, and a hiking/walking course that leads to an observation tower. On top of the tower, you will be amazed by panoramic views of the surrounding mountains of the Kanto area. There is also another hiking course that leads to a suspension bridge surrounded by lush trees and seasonal flowers and plants. Truly, a therapeutic place for the whole family.
Mt. Amamaki on the other hand is highly recommended for those who want to sweat it out on a 533-meter climb. The climb is a little bit challenging to those who are not used to climb mountains but the reward is great because you are immersed in nature and deep woodlands.
It is an interesting Buddhist temple containing several important cultural properties of Japan. It is beautifully located on top of the hill which also connects Mashiko no mori hiking trail. The place is worth a visit and some picture-taking.
MICHI NO EKI MASHIKO
It is a roadside station in Mashiko with an interesting eco-friendly architecture offering local produce and local handicrafts and products. It also features a cafe with healthy menus and a spacious lawn for picnics and other local events. It is a must-visit place in town.
EATING OUT AT MASHIKO CAFES
The small town of Mashiko boasts several trendy and rustic cafes as well. Most foods are served traditionally on ceramic plates and cups. These menus are reasonably priced for their large serving and deliciously prepared food. Most cafes served Italian food with a Japanese twist mainly pasta, curry, and rice, and sets of dessert and beverages. There are pamphlets provided by the government offices about the location of these local cafes for more information.
And before I end up this blog, let me show you a video about Mashiko Town here. Hope you enjoy reading this travel blog.