A town of tradition and pottery
Mashiko is a small town located in Tochigi Prefecture, japan, that is known for its rich history and culture of pottery. Ceramics have played an enormous role in the town’s development and are deeply ingrained in its traditions. The town is home to the Ceramic Art Messe Mashiko and the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, two prominent institutions that showcase the beauty and craftsmanship of Mashiko ware.
Mashiko ware is a unique style of pottery that originated in the town and gained popularity during the 19th century. The clay used in Mashiko ware is sourced locally and is known for its high quality and durability. The pottery is characterized by its simple yet elegant designs, often featuring earthy tones and natural motifs. The tradition of Mashiko pottery has been passed down through generations, and many local artisans continue to create exquisite pieces using traditional techniques.
The Ceramic Art Messe Mashiko is the main hub for pottery-related activities in the town. It houses a variety of facilities dedicated to earthenware, with the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art being the main attraction. The museum showcases a wide range of original Mashiko ware, providing visitors with a glimpse into the town’s rich pottery heritage. In recent years, the museum has also started displaying modern ceramic works from overseas, highlighting the global influence and appreciation for Mashiko pottery.
One of the highlights of visiting Mashiko is the opportunity to explore the world of Mashiko ceramics. The town is dotted with pottery studios and workshops where visitors can witness the creative process firsthand. Many of these studios offer hands-on pottery classes, allowing visitors to try their hand at creating their own Mashiko ware. It is a truly immersive experience that allows visitors to appreciate the skill and artistry that goes into making each piece of pottery.
Another must-visit attraction in Mashiko is the house of a renowned artisan. Shoji Hamada, one of the most influential potters in Mashiko’s history, had his house relocated to the Ceramic Art Messe. The house, along with his ancient-style kilns, is now open to the public for viewing. The house provides a glimpse into the life and work of Hamada, showcasing his techniques and artistic vision. Additionally, tea ceremonies are held at the house several times throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to experience the tranquility and beauty of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Mashiko has also become a global center of craftsmanship, attracting renowned ceramic artists from around the world. The Mashiko Museum Residency Program was established to invite artists to stay and create in Mashiko. This program allows visitors to witness the creative process of modern potters through workshops and exhibitions. It is a unique opportunity to learn from and interact with artists who have made a significant impact on the world of ceramics.
Apart from pottery, Mashiko also boasts other artistic attractions. The town is the birthplace of the renowned printmaker Sasajima Kihei, and his work is showcased at the Sasajima Kihei Hall, located within the Ceramic Art Messe. The hall features a rotating exhibition of Sasajima’s work, providing visitors with a glimpse into the world of printmaking. Additionally, the complex houses a salon where visitors can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in handcrafted Mashiko pottery. The salon also serves as a museum gift shop, allowing visitors to purchase their own pieces of Mashiko pottery as souvenirs.
Mashiko is not just about pottery and art; it also has a rich history that is worth exploring. The Iseki-Hiroba, located at the center of the complex, was once the site of a medieval castle. Today, it is an open grassy area featuring sculptures created by local artists. It is a peaceful spot where visitors can take a leisurely stroll and appreciate the beauty of both nature and art.
To reach Mashiko, the most convenient way is by taking a bus from Utsunomiya Station. The Kanto Bus operates a route from Utsunomiya Station to Mashiko Station, with a stop at Togei Messe Iriguchi, which is just a short walk from the Ceramic Art Messe. The bus ride takes approximately one hour, providing scenic views of the countryside along the way.
In conclusion, Mashiko is a town that is deeply rooted in tradition and pottery. Its rich history and culture have made it a renowned center for ceramics, attracting visitors from all over the world. From exploring the world of Mashiko pottery at the Ceramic Art Messe to visiting the house of a master craftsman, there are endless opportunities to immerse oneself in the beauty and craftsmanship of Mashiko ware. Whether you are an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, a visit to Mashiko is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Address And Maps Location:
3021 Mashiko, Mashiko-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi-ken