We live in the Japanese city of Utsunomiya, which is less than an hour away from a town called Mashiko that is famous for pottery making. Tourists from all over Japan make their way to Mashiko to buy pottery and to try their hand at making it themselves at one of the famous pottery kilns. Despite living close to Mashiko, we rarely go there and no one in our family had ever tried pottery making. But one weekend Bryan had plans to take Austin and Ethan to a sports camp so Katie and I decided to head on over to Mashiko and let the family Queen of Arts and Crafts give it a try.
We ended up going to a place called Hasegawa Touen, one of many pottery makers who have inexpensive classes for beginners and who welcome children. Most of the shops in Mashiko offer two kinds of pottery making experiences: forming pottery out of a ball of clay with your hands or using a pottery wheel. We decided to go with hand forming the clay since it sounded easier. The staff woman who helped us was very friendly and she assisted Katie whenever she had any questions. Otherwise, Katie was free to make whatever she wanted and could make use of various tools and clay stamps that the staff provided.
After a bit of deliberation, Katie decided to make a mug that she decorated with various animal-shaped stamps. When she was finished, the staff woman engraved Katie’s name and the date in the bottom of the mug and told us it would be ready in about a month. When we inquired about why it takes so long, she said that first they have to dry the clay, then bake it, then glaze it (in the color of Katie’s choice), and then bake it again.
Several weeks later, we received a call from Hasegawa Touen and went to pick up Katie’s pottery creation. She was very happy with the results and it is now her go-to mug for all types of beverages! Way to go, Katie! You did a great job! Maybe next time we will try the pottery wheel!