town in Haga district, Tochigi prefecture, Japan

Mashiko (益子) is a rural town in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Mashiko is famous for its pottery, known as Mashiko yaki (益子焼). Mashiko is the site of Saimyoji temple, one of the oldest temples in Tochigi prefecture, and the shrine of the Utsunomiya han, located in Kami-Oba (上大羽).



Large noborigama kilns were first founded there in 1853, by immigrant potters from the neighboring pottery community Kasama in Ibaraki prefecture. Simple and rustic in style, the main glazes are a clear wood ash glaze, a white rice husk ash glaze, black and kaki (persimmon), sometimes decorated with enamel red, yellow and green. These are worlds apart from the courtly ceramics of Kyoto but yet very Japanese.

Pottery has been made since Jomon times (over 10,000 years ago) in Mashiko, but modern Mashiko yaki dates only to 1853. The style was popularized by the potter Shoji Hamada. He was designated as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (so-called Ningen Kokuhō, Living National Treasure) in 1955. Because of Hamada, Mashiko yaki has been viewed as a good example of Mingei (Folkcraft) pottery.

Tourist information site


The local tourist association has a bilingual guide site.

Get in


Mashiko is a convenient day trip from Tokyo, and it is easy to get there by car, train, bus, or some combination of all three.

By train

Moka Railway steam locomotive

The fastest route is to take the JR Utsunomiya Line from Ueno to Oyama, which takes 42 min by Shinkansen or 82 min by normal train. Change here for the Mito line to Shimodate (21 min), then change yet again to the private Mōka Railway line to Mashiko (41 min). By normal train, the total cost is ¥2360 and the trip takes around three hours one way with transfer time factored in.

An alternative approach not much different in time or price is to take the JR Jōban line from Ueno to Toride, then change to the private Kantetsu-Jōsō line to Shimodate.

Note that the Mōka Railway (真岡鉄道) runs steam locomotives (coded as "SL" on schedules) once a day in each direction on Saturdays. The SL fare is about double the regular fare of ¥740 between the two stations. The railway station at Mōka is shaped like a giant steam locomotive.

By bus


Another alternative is to take the train to Utsunomiya and continue from there by Toya bus directly to Mashiko. The bus stops are in front of the main entrance to the train station. Look for bus station number 14 to Mashiko. Buses leave approximately hourly, take one hour and cost ¥1100. Remember, you don't have to be at a bus stop in the Jonai shopping area: just raise your hand and get the driver's attention and they'll stop and let you on.

Get around


While Mashiko is small enough to get around on foot, there are also many special attractions surrounding the town, such as pottery studios and workshops, shrines and temples, and noodle shops and gardens hidden up the mountains and valleys. It's sufficiently stretched out to make it a bit of hike, from the train station to the pottery area, but along the way if you look carefully you can see the remainders of the old commercial district, such as the tatami and basketmaking shops. It's possible to rent bicycles at the train station for a cost of ¥800 per day, or ¥400 for two hours, plus ¥100 for each additional hour.

Maps and English brochures are available from the tourist information office to your right as you exit the platform at Mashiko station.

The town consists of many different pottery workshops, kilns and retail shops. It also has an excellent selection of restaurants as well. The twice-yearly weeklong Pottery Markets (陶器市 Tōki-ichi), held in April–May and November, are good times to visit. Many workshops in town set up stalls throughout the town, and stores large and small hold sales of specially discounted work. There are also several matsuri throughout the year, the one in late July being the largest and best attended, featuring laquered wagons carved in Kanuma by the workers who built Nikko many generations ago.

  • 1 Mashiko Sankokan Museum (益子参考館) (Sankokan-mae bus stop), +81 285-72-5300. Shoji Hamada's workshop and home turned museum, showcasing about 30 of his works as well as his private collection. Near Hamada's thatched-roof home is a huge climbing kiln. Admission ¥800, Tu-Su 09:30 to 16:00; closed in February.
  • 2 Tōgei Messe Mashiko (陶芸メッセ益子), +81 285-72-7555. A museum of ceramic arts, displaying works by Shoji Hamada and other potters, not only from Mashiko but around Japan. Admission ¥600, open Tu-Su 09:30 to 16:00.
  • Zen no Rōka (禅の廊下), +81 285-72-9866. An indoor and outdoor museum of statues and artpieces, displaying works by Nandor Wagner a Hungarian scupltor who lived for three decades in Mashiko. There are a spring and an autumn exhibition check for details at [1].

Pottery-making classes

Yoshimura Strawberry Park (Mashiko Town)

Strawberry picking

  • 1 Yoshimura Strawberry Park (よしむら農園), 520 Hanawa, Mashikomachi, Tochigi, 321-4216 (5 min Walk from Kitayama Sta. 5 min Drive from Mashiko Station), +81 285-72-8189. During Strawberry seasons Tu-Su 09:30-17:30. Yoshimura Strawberry Park is a family run Strawberry farm in Mashiko, Tochigi ken. You can enjoy all-you-can-eat strawberry picking from as little as ¥1,000. This area has the largest harvest of strawberries in all of Japan and the local brand 'Tochiotome' which is available to pick is the most popular strawberry brand in Tokyo and exported as a luxury brand abroad. Low season ¥1,000, mid season ¥1,300, high season ¥1,500.

Sake tasting

  • 2 Tonoike Sake Brewery (外池酒造店), 333-1 Hanawa, Mashikomachi, Tochigi, 321-4216 (15-min walk from Kitayama Station, 20-min walk from Mashiko Station), +81 285-72-0001. 09:00- 17:00 (open all year round). Brewery tours are free.

The primary thing to purchase in Mashiko is pottery. The main street from the station to the center of town is filled with shops and boutiques offering all kinds and all price levels of ceramics. If you look closely, you'll also discover the indigo dyeing workshop and other handcrafts as well.

  • 1 Mashikoyaki Kamamoto Kyōhan Center (益子焼窯元共販センター), +81 285-72-4444. 10AM-4PM. A cooperative sales center that sells works by most kilns in town at reasonable prices.
  • Harvey Young Pottery (ハービー ヤング 陶房), 3650-2 Oosawa, +81-285-726484, . A small handmade pottery workshop operated since 1984 by an American who first went to Mashiko in 1969 to study pottery making. Tableware, Kitchenware, Flower Arrangement ware. Visitors are welcome, by appointment.

Twice a year, coinciding with the Golden Week Holidays in the first week of May, and again for the first week of November, there is a pottery and crafts festival where potters and craftsmen from Mashiko and surrounds come to the town and set up stalls. A great chance to pick up some stunning pottery and other crafts including woodwork, leatherwork, glass, jewellery and textiles, and great bargains.

While thirty years ago Mashiko was a veritable desert of ceramics, that is not the case today. You can find many different restaurants and a broad selection of interesting things to eat whatever you're interested in, running the gamut from katsukare to a broad assortment of local, organic, vegetarian restaurants. It's easy to find ramen and gyoza inexpensively at "PePe" next to Moegi, excellent tonkatsu at Restaurant "Kotori", handmade soba at Azuman, and while it's a little known secret, there's an Italian woodfiring bread on a little back road that's served on the tables of some of the finest restaurants in Tokyo! The collection of shops known as Starnet also has a cafe and restaurant up the hill which is worthwhile. Kamakura soba tops a mountain overlooking the town and has an excellent view!

"Mashiko no Sato" is a traditional cake made in Mashiko city. It taste like sweet potato, and is very popular as souvenirs. The price is about ¥120 a piece. It is sold in most large souvenir shops in Tochigi.



Many people make Mashiko a daytrip from Tokyo or go onto Nikko for the night, but there are also several Ryokan, Minshuku and Onsen to stay at in Mashiko.


  • 1 Tao Art Club, Potters Inn (益子陶芸倶楽部 Mashiko Tōgei Kurabu), +81 285-72-3866, fax: +81 285-72-4178. A traditional Minshuku style inn and also a pottery studio. Lodging only is ¥3500 a night. Studio use is extra. There are several kilns, including a wood fired noborigama. If you book during the week or "off peak" you might be able to stay in the Minka farmhouse, which has "Western" style toilets. If the Minka is full, you get placed in modern rooms. Large groups can be accommodated. It is located in a convenient spot. Bicycles are available Fax first, Furuki-san can read English and then voice call to confirm.




  • 5 Hotel Mashikokan (益子舘 里山リゾートホテル), 243-3, Mashiko, +81-285-72-7777. Set 3 km from train service at Mashiko Station, this hot spring hotel ("onsen") is surrounded by countryside. It has a variety of rooms, ranging from clamping tents to Japanese tatami rooms and artistic rooms inspired by Mashiko’s forests and artistic culture. The hot spring can also be used as a daytime visit. Oddly enough, though, it has no lifts or escalators to the baths or to the floor that leads to the sleeping rooms.



Mashiko's tourism office is at the train station. Open daily 08:00 to 20:00, tel. +81 285-72-8846 (or +81 284-72-2111 on weekends and holidays). With advance notice, they can arrange pottery classes for you.

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