Mashiko, Japan

Mashiko, Japan

In 2012 St Ives Town Council signed a Friendship Agreement with Mashiko in Japan. The Agreement was brought about due to the strong links between the potters of Mashiko and the Leach Pottery, St Ives.

Mashiko (益子町Mashiko-machi) is a town located in Tochigi PrefectureJapan.

Wikipedia Mashiko
Mashiko Town Website
Mashiko Japan Tourism Website

Full details of the signing of the Friendship Agreement are on the website of the Japanese embassy:

On several occasions since 2012 we have been pleased to welcome visitors from Mashiko to St Ives and Cllr Joan Symons has visited Mashiko. 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the original link with Mashiko and it was hoped to arrange a special programme to events to celebrate this, but the Covid crisis forced this to be postponed.

The Leach Pottery is in regular contact with Mashiko and St Ives Town Council is in touch with Shigiki Tonoike, the Chairman of the Mashiko Tourism Association and Koichiro Isaka, the proprietor of the Gallery St Ives in Tokyo.

Koichiro Isaka has kindly provided details of events which are planned for 2021:
(1) End of March: Online meeting with St Ives and Mashiko students.
(2) 12 June – 22 August: “Bernard Leach” exhibition at Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art.
(3) Middle of September: “Mashiko Fair” held at Hamada Shoji Memorial Sankokan Museum situated next to the Hamada Pottery.

Mashiko potters including Tomoo Hamada are planning to make monuments for the centenary. They are making two and sending one to the Leach Pottery in St Ives to put at the garden or somewhere at the pottery. One will be shown at the Hamada Shoji Museum.

In February 2021 we received this letter from the Mayor of Mashiko: Mashiko Mayor – February 2021 letter


We welcomed a group from Mashiko to St Ives and they  attended various events including a reception at the Guildhall and a visit to the Leach Pottery.

School children from Mashiko visited the Leach Pottery and St Ives School. A group were treated to a demonstration of firing pots – a highlight of their visit.

2013 schools visit to Leach. firing pots schoolchildren from St Ives and Mashiko.pottery firing

In 2012, St Ives Town Council, Cornwall, were pleased to welcome the Mayor and other esteemed guests from Mashiko and Click here for details of the Ceremony held at the Japanese Embassy in London.

ON Thursday 20th September 2012 the Mayor of St Ives, Mr Ron Tulley and his counterpart in the Japanese town of Mashiko, Mr Tomoyuki Otsuka signed a declaration of friendship and cultural collaboration in a ceremony at the St Ives Guildhall.  The event was attended by more than 50 people from both towns, representing local businesses, the arts community, education and the local authority.

The ceremony opened at 11am with a bagpiper heralding the arrival of the two mayors who entered the council chamber to the tune of St Ives Well Procession.  Lady Carol Holland, former chairman of the Leach Pottery, opened with a speech which outlined the long history of the friendship between the two towns, starting with the founding of the Leach Pottery in St Ives by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada and continuing through to the restoration of the Leach Pottery in 2008, when Mashiko’s population raised more than £7.5k towards the rebuild.  In March 2011, following the devastating earthquake in Japan, the Leach Pottery and St Ives reciprocated by launching an appeal to raise funds to rebuild Mashiko’s beleaguered pottery industry.  In total £34k was collected from around the world, with much support from the pottery community in particular, and sent to the Mashiko Potters’ Foundation. In the winter of 2011, following a unanimous decision by St Ives Town Council, a letter of support was sent by the Mayor of St Ives to the Mayor of Mashiko extending the hand of friendship and suggesting that the friendship should be formalised.  Bringing the towns of St Ives and Mashiko together in this way is not a new idea and has been discussed within the two communities for more than a decade.

Following the ceremony the Mashiko delegation and representatives from St Ives and the Leach Pottery, including the Mayor, headed to London where the Japanese Ambassador to Great Britain hosted a reception at the Japanese Embassy to mark the union of the two towns.  The evening was attended by over 100 people with speeches from the ambassador and from both Mayor Ron Tulley and Mayor Otsuka. The highlight was when the two mayors and the ambassador, dressed in traditional Japanese hapi jackets, ceremonially broke open a sake keg with wooden mallets. (Click here for more details)

The cultural collaboration has got off to a flying start with a visit to St Ives last week from 12 Mashiko school children, aged 13 to 14 years, who spent two days with St Ives school children, taking lessons and sharing stories about their respective countries.  That same week the Leach Pottery welcomed its first apprentice from Mashiko.  Yumi Seko, who has for four years assisted Shoji Hamada’s grandson, Tomoo at his pottery studio in Mashiko, joins the St Ives team for a 12 month stay.  Next June, Tomoo Hamada himself returns to the Leach Pottery for a week long residency and solo exhibition.  Plans are now afoot to for return visits to Mashiko and for ways in which to extend the collaboration further into the two communities.  Anyone who is interested in becoming involved with the collaboration should contact

The strong link between Mashiko and the Leach Pottery was demonstrated after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, which brought destruction of homes and whole areas, affecting thousands of people in Japan.  The potters of Mashiko were badly affected, the majority of noborigama kilns were destroyed, and workshops and homes damaged. The Leach Pottery set up an appeal to provide the relief needed at that time to help the potters in Mashiko rebuild their kilns so that they could continue with their work.