Mashiko is known for its pottery, called Mashikoyaki, and I had a chance to visit this cool little town and took a bazillion photos as you will soon see. I was asked to go with my good friend Mina's mom, Yoko, and her two friends. Yoko is a really talented painter and enjoys a lot of different crafts, so when she asked me to go visit this town famous for pottery I jumped on the chance! 

Mashiko is in Tochigi prefecture, which is apparently famous for Strawberries, Gyoza, and this statue of Ninomiya Sontoku. He was a philosopher and farmer who was acclaimed for working hard and studying simultaneously. This statue is famous all over Japan actually, and many schools have it up on their grounds to remind students to work hard and study! 

Leave it to Japan to make cute Miffy strawberry bread! 

From Kashiwa we drove 2 hours to Mashiko city. The three ladies I went with were chatting about a bunch of interesting things from bakeries, to cooking, their kids, traveling, etc. It was incredible Japanese listening practice for me and I was sitting in the back seat vigorously typing words into my dictionary app on my phone. 

We made a pit stop at a market on the side of the road where I ate the most amazing bowl of Tonjiru (pork soup). The cutest grandma and grandpa were cooking it up in this giant pot with their home grown veggies, so when I ate it I could taste every bit of flavor, freshness and love. They even had thinly sliced onions, red peppers, and freshly graded yuzu to put on top. UHHH...INCREDIBLE. 

How cute is Mio with her giant negi (onion) haha! 

Next pit stop was this sake factory, the first I've been to! 

Mio, Yoko, and my friend Mina's mother-in-law! I had a lot of fun with these ladies. 

Magical little Japanese garden. 

Sigudama...aka giant perfectly spherical cedar ball. This is a common symbol at sake factories, so I learned, because it symbolizes the age of the sake being produced based on the progression of the green leaves turning brown. I think they should put googley eyes on it, don't you? 

Made it to Mashiko city where they have this giant Raccoon Dog that is nakey and looks like he is giving you the middle finger but he's actually holding a tiny cup HAHA. 

Funny side note... my coworker, who just visited Torrance and went to a Clippers game with my dad, is named Mashiko and has the same kanji as this city.

First thing we did was paint our own pottery. We didn't have time to hand make our own on a potters wheel (next time), but we were able to do a Japanese version of color me mine! In proper Japanese traditional fashion, there were only three colors of paint, blue, brown (looks red), and pink. It was kind of fun to have a limited color scheme, and I painted a tiny little vase with  mostly blue and a little pink. 

After that, we walked to lunch and admired some shops on the way. 

The beginning of the Japanese koio (fall leaves). 

Soba and curry combo for lunch = bomb

The main street of Mashiko is very quaint and lined with many many pottery stores. It was endless! 

This store was particularly beautiful with a giant Japanese maple tree in the middle courtyard. 

I wanted this ring, but not for $100! 

How cute is this bread clock? 

This man had a store full of bugs and insects he had caught!! CRAZY. I couldn't stop staring at the butterflies. I mean, we see them all over on prints, jewelry, designs...but when you really look up close at real butterflies...they are stunning. God is truly an incredible creator. 

I thought of my sister when I saw this color scheme. 

Cute little girl on a swing in a vintage shop. How rad is that Tokyo olympics poster? 

Surprisingly, I walked away from Mashiko city having only bought one thing - these earrings. I was tempted to buy many cups and bowls, but I told myself that it wasn't practical for me to have a bunch of dishes I would never use and that I should just enjoy the inspiration without having to buy anything (aren't you proud mom? I'm #becominganadult). But these earrings, I couldn't pass up! 


We walked around and shopped the rest of the afternoon. It was a little rainy and very cold so we headed back home at around 4pm. It was so inspired by the pottery and artistic impression of everything in Mashiko city and was so thankful to have a day of crafts with three awesome ladies!

Also, speaking of pottery, watch this video about Kintsugi, the art of mending broken pottery together. Straight up sermon message in art form!! 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9