In the late Edo period, in 1853, Keizaburo Otsuka built an oven in a part of Mashiko, that was then called “Negoya”, and started making pottery.
Initially, this was primarily used for the production of everyday goods such as bowls, water pots and clay bottles.
In 1924 Shôji Hamada – which is nowadays declared a “Living National Treasure” – moved to Mashiko. The new idea of mass production, primarily gained through the Industrial Revolution, led Shôji Hamada, together with Yanagi Muneyoshi and a few others to start a folk art movement to put the focal point back on handcrafted everyday goods. The main focus was on the “beauty of useful art”. In contrast to art objects that are primarily intended for observing, Mashikoyaki is not only beautiful to look at, but at the same time can also be used in various ways.
The basis of the folk art movement has been acceptance by artists from various parts of Japan and the world since the Taisho period. In contrast to many other rural areas, Mashiko has a welcoming climate. There are currently around 250 pottery artists and 50 pottery shops, that come from a variety of different backgrounds, located in and around the Mashiko area.
You have the opportunity to get to know a long tradition of various handicrafts – for example the tradition of dyeing which has existed for around 200 years (Higeta Aizome Kobo), wood, iron, bamboo or glass processing, as well as the production of pumpkin lamps and much more.
In addition, pottery markets are held every year in early May and early November, where you can admire and also purchase a wide range of Mashikoyaki and also ceramics from a variety of places.