Japan is full of memorable experiences just waiting to be stumbled upon. One winter a few years ago we took a weekend trip to Hakone to enjoy the breath-taking scenery, steamy onsen, relaxing vibes and even a pottery workshop!
Every now and then it’s great to take a little breather from daily life. Only two hours by train from Tokyo, Hakone is the perfect spot to get your holiday into motion. Hakone is famous for it’s rich history, impressive views of Mt. Fuji, ryokan and onsen. Once you arrive at Hakone however, there are plenty of fantastic surprises awaiting you! From historic Edo outposts to European-influenced gardens, your trip to the home of Mt. Fuji is guaranteed to be memorable.
While exploring the peaceful, landscaped Gora Park we came across the highlight of our trip – Crafthouse. This workshop and gallery is a hub for local ceramic artists to display their creations and an opportunity for curious tourists to try their hand at making their own.
The shop can be found on the top floor where various glass, ceramic and dry flower works are available for purchase. The craftsmanship and selection of modern and traditional Japanese designs are impressive, and you’ll definitely find more than a few pieces to take home with you.
Head downstairs and you’ll find the workshop. Crafthouse hosts a variety of glass and ceramic crafting classes. Make a booking with the friendly English-speaking staff and join the next available session. We went on a popular day where many Japanese and foreign tourists were eager to book a class, but I had no problems choosing a time slot that suited.
I was excited to try a pottery wheel class – something I’d always wanted to do! I’d done a lot of hand-building ceramic classes in the past but never tried the elusive wheel. I joined a small group of other tourists and got straight into making. Our teacher was very helpful, offering suggestions throughout and demonstrating effective techniques for beginners. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. Over the 30-minute session we created as many pieces as we wanted, from small cups to medium sized bowls. I made a small bowl and chose a light mint crackle glaze with a golden rim.
Want to take your finished pieces home? Crafthouse offers a fantastic finishing and delivery service. Choose one (or more) of your works created during the session and a Crafthouse artisan will finish the process by firing it, then glazing it to your order. The teacher took us through the order form with the help of an English guide. The results are safely shipped to you within 2 months time – delivered either in Japan or internationally! My bowl was shipped to me in Tokyo in perfect condition and I loved the results! The glaze turned out even better than I expected.
We had a fantastic time at Crafthouse and fully appreciate the experience they offer visitors to Hakone and craft-lovers. What better way to personalise your holiday than with handmade pottery?
Opening hours: 9am-5pm daily
You can walk to Crafthouse if you’re in the main part of Hakone town. Otherwise there are plenty of busses, and even a cable car if you’re coming over the mountain.
To get to Hakone from Tokyo, take the Odakyu Railway line from Shinjuku Station to Hakone Yumoto Station. From there, take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Gora Station in central Hakone town. As always, the train trips are half of the fun of traveling around Japan!
Have you taken a pottery class in Japan? Let us know all about it…