About Mashiko

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A clear and wide sky that stretches across the landscape of low and beautiful mountains. In spring cherry blossoms, in summer sunflowers, in autumn the bright colors of the autumn leaves and in winter frost and snow ensure a noticeable four-season experience. This is where the town that is known even overseas for its ceramics lies – Mashiko.

Mashiko is located about 100 km northeast of the metropolis of Tokyo. With the Highway Bus you have the option of leaving the skyscrapers of Tokyo behind and enjoying the passing landscape of the wide Kanto area to arrive in Mashiko within about 2½ hours.

Not far from Tokyo and yet so different – the natural environment blesses Mashiko with rich agriculture and excellent clay, from which the unique ceramic – called “Mashikoyaki” – is formed.

Experience a quiet and at the same time fulfilling life in harmony with nature when coming to Mashiko.

About Mashikoyaki, folk art and handicraft

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.

About the agriculture

Mashiko is said to be the border between climatically warm and cold regions, and many crops are grown throughout the yea

Cereals such as rice, wheat and buckwheat; fruits such as strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, persimmons, blueberries and melons; wild mountain plants in spring such as butterbur, watercress, udo and the Japanese aralia. In autumn, different kinds of mushrooms and a wide variety of crops are grown. Enjoy the impressive rural surroundings and experience the uniqueness of each individual season.

About dining

In the fast food and chain restaurant-free town of Mashiko the emphasis lies primarily on locally produced goods. Explore a restaurant in the forest that gives a feeling of cosiness with its in-house bakery and spacious café, or enjoy Mashiko’s soba noodles made from buckwheat grown in the region. These and about 70 other options within the Mashiko area allow you to enjoy a range of Japanese as well as Western-style dishes.

There are also shops that have been making and selling handmade soybean paste (miso), Japanese sake or Japanese confectionery in the traditional way for around 120 years.

Mashiko is enriched by seven national cultural assets such as the three-story pagoda (built in 1543) or the tower gate (built in 1492) in the Seimyoji temple. The ruins of a Japanese medieval castle are also a valuable cultural asset of Mashiko for viewers to visit.

In addition, Mashiko has inherited many folk cultural traits, such as the Kagura folk dance or the lion dance, as well as sculpture stands that are used for festivals.

About the climate

Average annual temperature 14.5 ℃
Maximum temperature 38.0 ℃
Minimum temperature -6.8 ℃
Total annual rainfall 1,284.5 mm (year 2015)

In spring and autumn there is a pleasant climate, summer is characterized by frequent thunderstorms. A winter morning surprises with harsh and cold air, and a dry breeze causes large fluctuations in the highest and lowest temperatures within one day.

Every now and then snow falls in winter.