A visit to Japan will inevitably involve a stay in Tokyo for most travelers, but just a short trip to a neighboring prefecture can provide unique experiences away from the bustle of the city. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with friends and family in Tochigi prefecture, a mountainous region about 100km north of Tokyo. A highlight of the stay was a day trip to Mashiko, a town famous for pottery and an all-around craft lover’s paradise.
We started the day at starnet - a health-conscious eatery serving up organic dishes and produce, in addition to a beautifully curated selection of home goods, clothing and ceramics housed in a quaint gallery-like space. Checking out some of the local antique shops next, we spent hours looking through heaps of bizzaro gems and collectibles. A visit to the Higeta indigo workshop was also an essential part of our itinerary, a truly special experience witnessing the centuries-old practice of traditional indigo dyeing.
Finally, we made our way to some of the local climbing kilns, hoping to land on the perfect piece to bring back home. At one kiln, we were able to tour the entire workshop and showroom space with the guidance of the potter himself. With the immense legacy of carrying on this craft passed down through generations, we were captivated seeing how the potter’s individual artistry shone through with his own techniques and style. A small container then caught our eyes, featuring a black glaze with strokes of wave-like patterns. The combination of the visual motif across the container in natural, earthy colours was impossible to walk away from. Back home, the container has served as a salt cellar at our dining table - a constant reminder of that day well spent.