Mashiko / TochigiExperience local art and food in one of the best 'ceramic villages' in Japan: Mashiko-machi, Tochigi Prefecture

Kominka Furuki has a pottery kiln on the premises and if you are lucky, you can observe the firing of the kiln.

Mashiko Town in Tochigi Prefecture is one of the leading producers of ceramic in the Kanto region. Kilns were established here around 300 years ago and a wide variety of pottery has been produced, from daily necessities to works of art. It is also the town where Shoji Hamada (1894-1978), a potter registered as a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure), lived for over 50 years. In spring and fall, the Mashiko Ceramic Art Market is held where visitors can meet the potters directly. There are also many facilities where visitors can try pottery making using a potter's wheel or hand-building(Tebineri).

Kominka Furuki

The earthen floor by the entrance is a place for guests to relax. There is also a hearth behind the single slab wooden table.

On the grounds of the Mashiko Ceramic Art Club where visitors can try pottery making, you can also find a traditional Japanese house with a unique lodging facility. The house is a 300-year-old headman's residence that was relocated from Ibaraki Prefecture, and the size of the house suggests the wealthy lifestyle of the headman at that time. The rooms do not have keys, so it is recommended that a group of families and friends rent out the house for their own stay. The Mashiko Pottery Club has many foreign staff members who can assist you with your pottery making experience. Immerse yourself in the feeling of being a potter and enjoy making your own pottery.

This is an impressive Japanese house. Baths and toilets have been renovated so you can stay comfortably.

Bath and toilet are shared. The kitchen for self-catering is well stocked with cooking utensils and "Mashiko-yaki" pottery. There are also BBQ facilities and a pizza oven outside the building, where you can enjoy cooking your own meals together by purchasing local vegetables and ingredients.

Rooms have the stylistic beauty of a Japanese house. There is no TV in the room, but Wi-Fi is available.

There are seven guest rooms. If the house is reserved for a private party, the sliding doors and shoji screens can be left open. The deeper you go from the entrance, the more prestigious the rooms become. The height of the floor becomes higher, and the construction of Ranma and Tokonoma (alcove) becomes more luxurious. This inn is perfect for spending time immersed in an old Japanese farming village.

Yamani Otsuka

The store is filled with a wide variety of works, from reasonably priced everyday items to art pieces by popular artists.

Johnaizaka is one of the places you must visit when you come to Mashiko. There are many pottery stores lining the street so you can wander around and look for your favorite piece. Among them, Yamani Otsuka has a wide variety of works by about 100 artists, and is recommended for those who want to take their time to look for the right piece. The store also has many gallery spaces and the gallery on the second floor of the main store holds solo exhibitions of popular domestic and international artists, group exhibitions of leading contemporary artists, as well as art auctions twice a year.

The interior of "Craft Yamani," where works by popular artists are displayed. They are uniquely designed works of art.

Across the street from the main store is the sister store "Craft Yamani" featuring works by popular artists. The store also displays the works of Shoji Hamada, a living national treasure and a ceramic artist who made pottery in Mashiko for 50 years. It is highly recommended to visit the store and take a look at the works of this artist.

The experience of using a potter's wheel is fun as the mud feels moist and smooth to the touch. The key is to use the right amount of pressure.

At the workshop on the premises, you can try pottery making by hand using a potter's wheel, hand-building (Tebineri), and painting. The explanations are given in Japanese, but you can be assured that the staff will carefully show you how it is done. If you live in Japan, you can have the finished work sent to you later.

Tonoike Shuzo

You can enjoy a sake tasting after the brewery tour. The brand name "Sanran" means "shining" in Japanese.

Tonoike Shuzo is a sake brewery founded in Mashiko in 1937. Using water from the Nikko mountain range drawn from a well on the premises as brewing water, the company brews high quality sake under the leadership of the chief brewer Makoto Ono. Ono is certified as both a Shimono Touji and Nanbu Touji. Shigeki Tonoike, the third-generation president of the company, aims to create "beautiful sake" that is free of any cloying taste and has the original flavor, acidity, and aroma of rice. The signature brand "Sanran" Daiginjo has won the gold medal at the Annual Japan Sake Awards (Zenkoku Shinshu Kampyokai) for eight consecutive years, and has also won numerous awards overseas.

During the brewery tour, the staff will take you on a tour of the old warehouse.

The museum exhibits materials in an old warehouse and provides detailed explanations of sake brewing tools and the brewing process, which is recommended for those who would like to learn more about sake. After the tour, sake lovers will be able to enjoy a tasting of some of the most popular brands. (For hygiene reasons, the actual production site cannot be observed.)

Sake tasting set popular among sake lovers. On the left is "Sanran Daiginjo" and on the right is "Tonoike Junmai Daiginjo".

Sake tasting is available in wine glasses and Mashiko-ware sake cups at the museum's café. The sake tasting is a great way to experience the aroma and taste of different types of sake, such as Daiginjo and Junmai Daiginjo, which have dramatically different characteristics depending on the method of production. The store also sells food products made from sake.

Japanese Cuisine Soma

An example of the "Braised Pork Belly and Tuna Fish Set Meal" lunch. The "Today's Recommendation" menu offers so many options!

The dishes prepared by Yusuke Terakata, who was trained at a Japanese-style restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo, are beautiful to the eye and generous in volume. The restaurant uses mostly local products, such as Mashiko rice, organic vegetables, Tochigi brand pork, eggs, and locally brewed sakeserved in Mashiko-ware dishes. "Mashiko rice is grown in mountain water, so the grains are small but very tasty," says Terakata. Fresh fish shipped directly from Akashiura in Hyogo Prefecture is also popular. The restaurant offers a variety of set menus that allow customers to enjoy both meat and fish.

The interior of the restaurant incorporates beautiful wood tones. Works of various artists are displayed, such as the lampshades.

The interior of the restaurant has a sophisticated atmosphere decorated with paintings and sculptures. You can enjoy sipping sake with your favorite Mashiko-ware sake cups lined up on the shelves. Terakata says, "Being a ceramics villages, Mashiko is unique in that there is a lot of interaction with artists."

The word "soma" in the store name refers to a mountain where trees are grown for lumber. The kanji also consists of "tree" and "mountain".

The Terakata family used to be in the lumber business, so the building and tables are made of zelkova, pine, and other fine woods. Another feature is that the buildings are constructed using traditional methods without using nails, just like shrines. The beautiful wooden ceiling inside the restaurant is also a must-see.

Yoshimura Farm

Strawberry picking is popular among people of all ages. You can pick and taste as many fresh strawberries as you like.

Tochigi Prefecture is one of Japan's leading strawberry production areas. Production began after World War II and for more than 50 years, Tochigi has had the largest strawberry harvest in Japan. Tochigi's strawberry varieties such as "Tochiotome" and "Nyoho" are very popular throughout the country. You can enjoy Tochigi's strawberries to the fullest by participating in "strawberry picking" at a farm. Yoshimura Farm in Mashiko Town offers strawberry picking from December to May, and since the service is available in English, it has become a popular spot for foreign visitors.

11 varieties are grown in 30 greenhouses. Strawberry picking is popular with families.

Yoshimura Farm grows 11 varieties of strawberries, including rare varieties. The white Milky Berry strawberry is highly recommended. Since this variety is prone to disease, they are carefully grown and their condition is checked every day.

The thatched-roof building is the landmark. Receive gloves at the reception desk and move to the greenhouses.

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, visitors are required to wear masks and gloves inside the greenhouses. There are areas outside the greenhouses where visitors can eat the strawberries they have picked. You can go in and out of the greenhouses as many times as you like and pick as many strawberries as you like. You can enjoy the farm's specialty strawberries to the fullest.

Access information

Access to Mashiko-machi, Tochigi Prefecture:

About 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station by car (via Tohoku Expressway), about 3 hours by train (JR Utsunomiya Line, transfer at Oyama to JR Mito Line, transfer at Shimodate to Mooka Railway).
The "Kanto Yakimono Liner," a direct bus service from JR Akihabara Station, also operates. (Only afternoon service departs from Akihabara)

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stays“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stays Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


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