How to enjoy a pottery experience in Mashiko
Visit Mashiko Town in TOCHIGI prefecture
to have a fun pottery experience!

How to experience Mashiko Pottery (Full Video)

Play Video

See below to 're-watch' the STEP-BY-STEP instructions!

Video Tutorials: step-by-step (short videos)

Video contents
  • How to prepare
  • How to turn the potter’s wheel
  • How to use the water

How pottery experiences in Mashiko work

Most pottery experiences are between 45 min to 3 hours depending on the studio.

1. Watch the videos & learn the basics

English speaking Instructor explains how to make Mashiko pottery

Watch the step-by-step video playlist on this webpage and understand the basics.

2. Create your work

Trying mashiko pottery

Try your hand at the potter’s wheel. Your instructor will be there to help you.

3. Choose an item to fire

If you decide to fire an item there will be an extra cost for firing and delivery.

*Your item will then be trimmed, dried, bisque fired, glazed, glazed fired before it can be sent to you and this will take around 2 months.

4. Choose a glaze (colour)

Choose which colour (which glaze) you want. It takes a few days before it can be glazed so your instructor will glaze your item.

5. Pay for your experience

The cost you pay at the end will depend on the items you decide to fire. 

Important!

The cost you pay at the end will depend on what you decide to fire. The ‘experience fee’ does NOT include trimming, drying, firing, glazing, and delivery, so if you decide to fire one of the items you will need to pay for this which will depend on the size of the item.

How your Mashiko Pottery will be made

Step 1
Wedging the Clay

wedging clay for pottery

Before you can use clay to make pottery, the clay must be wedged. This is a process that removes air pockets as well as small hard spots in the clay.

Step 2
Creating

Tourists having fun making Mashiko pottery in Furuki

Awake the artist within you! It’s now your turn. Bring the clay alive with your creativity.

Step 3
Trimming

Trimming - Mashiko Pottery

After your work is taken off the potter’s wheel, your instructor will trim away some excess clay usually on the lower part of your work. This is to make the base even and prevent cracks while firing.

Step 4
Drying

drying pottery

Before your work can be fired or glazed it needs to be dried to prevent cracks when fired in the kiln. Drying can take between 7-10 days.

Step 5
Bisque firing

Bisque firing - Mashiko Pottery

After your item has been dried it is put in the kiln for Bisque firing. This is when your work is put in a kiln and heated slowly and cooled slowly to change raw clay into ceramic ware preparing it for glazing.

Step 6
Glazing

glazing pottery

Remember the color you chose?

This is when that colour (glaze ) is applied to you your work.

Step 7
Glaze Firing

After the glaze is applied to your work, it is fired again. This second firing is called glaze firing. During glaze firing, the glaze melts to form a glassy coat on the pottery.

Step 8
Finish!

After your item is glazed and fired twice, it is carefully taken out of the kiln, packaged up, and sent to you!

Tips

Size will change!

Plates at Mashiko autumn pottery fair (early November)

When your item is dried and fired, your item will shrink to about 80% of the original size. Make sure to create the item slightly larger than the size you want.

Also, please note the firing + delivery fees will depend on the size of your item.

Firing is nature's art

The erratic nature of the firing process can sometimes cause unpredictable results.

This is what makes every item unique and why pottery making is so attractive.

However, sometimes the firing may cause your work to crack or break, so please understand that there is always a risk that your item may not finish the way you hoped.

Colour

Most pottery studios in Mashiko will have a couple of colours to choose from. Some of the colours will include traditional colours from Mashiko as well as modern colours. 

Drying and firing is a natural process so please understand that the colours will slightly change every time an item is produced.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Mashiko pottery experiences are suitable for beginners. 

Yes, most pottery experiences in Mashiko are available for children.

Please ask a pottery studio for details.

Prices for pottery experiences (potter’s wheel experience) in Mashiko include using a potter’s wheel, clay for your work, and help from your instructor. (Each studio has a different time slot so, please check with them)

You can create as many shapes as you like, and when your time is up, your instructor will look at your items and ask you if you’d like to keep any.

If you want to keep an item, it will need to be dried, glazed, and fired in a controlled environment, which the pottery studio does for you.

Most studios charge extra for this. The extra price will depend on your item’s size (and weight). There is also a delivery/shipping fee if you want your item sent to your home when finished.

A pottery experience in Mashiko is typically 45-60min. However, some pottery studios offer 3hours (half-day) and full-day pottery experiences.

Mashiko pottery ware (Mashikoyaki/ 益子焼) is traditional Japanese pottery made in the town of Mashiko about 2.5 hours north of Tokyo in Japan.

Modern Mashiko pottery (Mashikoyaki) dates back to around 1852, but it was popularised when Shoji Hamada set up a kiln in Mashiko in 1930.

The connection with overseas potters such as Bernard Leach (1887-1979) and the continuing relationship with areas such as St Ives in England make Mashiko pottery a popular form of pottery overseas as well as in Japan.

For more read Wikipedia here.

After you create your item on the potters wheel, your work will go through 6 steps before arriving at your door.


1. Trimmed and cleaned up
2. Drying (around 1 week)
3. Bisque Firing
4. Glazing
5. Glaze (Gloss/Glost) Firing
6. Packed and delivered to you

Each step is carefully done by hand and takes about 2-3 months. If you live abroad please add shipping time before you can expect to receive your item.

During and after your experience, your teacher may assist you with your work.

This is because processes such as firing can have a risk of affecting your work or even damaging it if it is too thin etc. Please understand that they are just trying to help you avoid this.

If you are an experienced potter, you may notice that the potter’s wheel may spin in the opposite direction to what you are used to.

This is because a potter’s wheels in Japan, China, and Korea tend to go clockwise, and in the west, pottery wheels are likely to turn counter-clockwise.

There is no clear answer to why this, but it could be because the way of how a potter’s wheels was spun before there was electricity.

There are several ways to visit Mashiko such as by car, train, and bus.

For details please check out this page .

Where to book a pottery experience ?

Furuki Mashiko Togei Club

・English speaking instructors
・Offers 90min and full day experiences
・Studio can send your finished products overseas.

Address: 3288-6 Mashiko, Mashiko-cho, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture 321-4217

Pottery Fuwari

・English speaking instructors
・Offers 90min experiences
・Studio can send your finished products overseas.

Address: 4398 Mashiko, Mashiko-cho, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture 321-4217

Hasegawatoen

・Price (from3,500yen) includes the cost of firing 2 items of your choice.
・Offers 90min experiences
・Studio can send your finished products overseas.
・Pick-up service from Mashiko station.

Address: 4240-3 Mashiko, Mashiko-cho, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture 321-4217

Yokoyama

・Price (4,400yen) includes the cost of firing a few items of your choice.
・Offers 60min experiences

Address: 3527-7 Mashiko, Mashiko-cho, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture 321-4217

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