I went back again to Mashiko, actually not while the fair was on, but just during the normal season… I walked around more of the town instead of focusing just on the pottery.
Mashiko town is quite pretty, with many temples and shrines. They have really good English maps and the website is also very good, with lots of English maps and guides. I walked around the main parts, but ended up as always looking at pottery. One of the places I went to was the ‘Tahei kiln’ Iwashita Pottery , who have been potters here since 1866. They have the climbing kiln, Noborigama, at the back, actually they have two, which were extensively damaged in the big earthquake.
They have restored one and use it to show how they work, but actually they fire in a modern kiln now. Anyway the owner/Potter was there and he showed me around and then gave me a demonstration of making a tall vase on a wheel.. My very own workshop, it was really interesting and he was lovely, afterwards he took photos of me with his vase, so it looked like I was a pottery genius !
If you go to Mashiko the “Pottery Experience” Pamphlet has Iwashita Pottery on the list about half way down – and if you are in town, its not too far from the Giant Tanuki..
On the way there I went through Motegi, which apparently has some major race track hidden behind the gates.. Interesting, because its really in the countryside, no Major cities nearby..
Built in 1997 by Honda, and now used more by video gamers than anyone else, apparently the track features in many car related games (gran turisimo & others).