If a visitor to Mashiko had any doubts about the town's dedication to pottery, the giant, iconic stoneware jar that stands near the station ticket barrier, would dispel them.

Exiting the station, the large photographic images hanging on the walls — some representing renowned potters at work, others showing horses hauling carts loaded with great bales of straw used to wrap ceramic items — serve to immediately immerse new arrivals in the working life of this famed locale in the Haga District of Tochigi Prefecture.

The town provides a helpful crash course in how ceramic ware is made and marketed. Visitors can follow the process from the excavation of the clay to its shaping, firing and display in the countless shops, galleries and museums along the town's main street.