Mashiko Town Office
Location of Mashiko in Tochigi Prefecture
|• Total||89.40 km2 (34.52 sq mi)|
|Population (May 2015)|
|• Density||262/km2 (680/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|• Tree||Japanese red pine|
|• Flower||Yamayuri (Lilium auratum)|
|• Bird||Japanese bush warbler|
|Address||2030 Mashiko, Mashiko-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi-ken 321-4293|
Mashiko (益子町 Mashiko-machi) is a town located in Haga District, Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern Kantō region of Japan. As of May 2015, the town had an estimated population of 23,400 and a population density of 262 persons per km2. Its total area was 89.40 km2. Mashiko is known for its pottery, called mashikoyaki (益子焼).
Mashiko is located in the far southeast corner of Tochigi Prefecture.
Mashiko developed as a fortified temple town from the Nara period. During the Edo period, it was an exclave of Kurohane Domain from Nasu. After the Meiji restoration, Mashiko, Nanai and Tano villages were created within Haga District on April 1, 1889 with the creation of the municipalities system. Mashiko was elevated to town status on March 1, 1895. Mashiko annexed Nanai and Tano villages on June 1, 1954.
The economy of Mashiko is heavily dependent on tourism from its ceramics crafts industry. The town is also a bedroom community for neighboring Mooka and Utsunomiya.
Mashiko is known for its pottery, called mashikoyaki (益子焼). Early pottery in Mashiko dates back to the Jōmon and Yayoi periods. Mashikoyaki is often thought of as a simple and rustic in style, brown with maybe a little red glaze, but modern pottery made in Mashiko today is found in many styles, because of the creative freedom brought to Mashiko by Shoji Hamada. Modern Mashikoyaki dates only to 1853, when a potter discovered that local clay here was ideal for ceramics. The style was popularized in 1930 when Hamada, later designated as a Living National Treasure, set up a kiln in Mashiko. Hamada′s student, Tatsuzō Shimaoka, was also designated as a Living National Treasure and worked in Mashiko from 1953 until his death in 2007.
Mashiko is a folkware kiln site that is unlike some of the other older kiln sites around Japan. The town is open to newcomers whether they be potters or others with professional backgrounds in arts, science and education. In Japan craftsmen were usually born into their profession but in Mashiko, anyone could be a potter. Following Shoji Hamada, people looking to return to a more traditional Japanese lifestyle settled in the area. 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.
- Saimyō-ji, Jizo-in, Entsu-ji - Buddhist temples contain several important cultural relics (as designated by the national and prefectural governments).
- Holmes, Ann Sommer. The Transition of the Artisan-Potter to the Artist Potter in Mashiko, a folkware kiln site in Japan. New York University Press, 1982. p. 12.
- Baekeland, Frederick. Modern Japanese Ceramics in American Collections. New York: Japan Society, 1993. (ISBN 0-913304-38-7)
Media related to Mashiko, Tochigi at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website (in Japanese)
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mashiko.|