Itinerary Guide: This Cycling Tour Is Perfect for Those Who Want a Break from Tokyo
Experience strawberry picking, pottery, indigo-making and more!
If you're in Tokyo, and you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, look up the town of Mashiko. While known for producing world-class ceramics, it's also a great place to learn about rice wine production and indigo production and get a taste of the Tochigi Prefecture's famous strawberries. While you can explore the town at your own pace, we recommend doing a cycling tour around Mashiko for a different experience. Read on to know more!
8:20 a.m. Depart from Akihabara Station.
Use the Kanto Yakimono Liner from Akihabara Station Bus Terminal. One-way tickets are at ¥2,100, while and roundtrip tickets are at ¥3,700. Reservations can be made online to get sure seats, but walk-ins are welcome as well. P.S. If you're not on a tight schedule, you can reach Mashiko through a steam locomotive train as well.
10:50 a.m. Rent a bicycle.
Once you arrive at Mashiko Station, you can rent a bicycle from the Mashiko Tourism Association. Daily rate is ¥800 a day. Electric bicycles are provided for easy travel around the hills and slopes of Mashiko town. However, because they have limited bikes in the shop, make sure to inform them beforehand for extra bikes.
Here is a sample route (approx. 8 km):
Yoshimura Strawberry Park (2.2 km)
The best time for picking is from January to April, but depending on the season, strawberry picking may extend from December until May. The strawberry picking at the Yoshimura Strawberry Park is different because they don't have a time limit! You can stay the whole day eating as many strawberries as you please. With 8 different varieties coming from all over Japan, including their famous Tochiotome variety, you are able to enjoy a range of sweetness levels particular to each variety.
Take-home is not available, and you have to eat the strawberries you picked at the farm. However, they sell strawberries from their roadside shop, as well as other products.
Yoshimura Strawberry Park is located at 520 Hanawa, Mashikomachi, Tochigi Prefecture and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday to Sunday. However, they are open every day between March 1 to May 6. You may contact them at +81-285-72-8189 or check out their website here.
Tonoike Shuzoten (Tonoike Sake Brewery) (0.9 km)
The Tonoike Sake Brewery started on the hills of Mashiko in 1937, making the Sanran brand shortly after its founding. Today, they are known for producing award-winning sake, receiving the Gold award for four consecutive years at the Japan Sake Awards. At the brewery, you can learn how they create their award-winning sake. The whole experience is an educational mix of Japanese sake culture and the culture of Mashiko itself.
They have props for people to wear and enjoy.
You can buy their award-winning sake at their shop. You can also enjoy light snacks and tea.
Tonoike Shuzoten is located at 333-1, Hanawa, Haga District, Mashikomachi, Tochigi Prefecture. You may contact them at +81-285-72-0001 or visit their website here.
Soma (Lunch) (2 km)
Have lunch at an authentic Japanese restaurant. At Soma, they serve fresh seasonal vegetables from Tochigi Prefecture. Their lunch sets are perfect after half a day of cycling.
Soma is located at 2068-1 Mashiko, Haga District, Tochigi Prefecture and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner except on Wednesdays. You may contact them at +81-285-72-0931.
Yamani (Pottery Experience) (1.5 km)
Mashiko is known for its pottery. Experience making your own pottery while being guided by a teacher. It takes approximately two months for the whole process of drying, baking, painting and glazing to finish, which is why the finished products are sent by delivery. International delivery is available at a price.
Ceramic painting is also available. Children and adults alike can enjoy expressing their creativity by making unique designs. These items are smaller and are easier to send out by delivery. Because of the delicate craftsmanship involved in making these products, expect them to reach you within 1 to 2 months.
Yamani is located at 88 Jonaizaka, Mashikomachi, Haga District, Tochigi Prefecture and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may contact them at +81-285-72-7772. The pottery experience starts from ¥2,300, while ceramic painting starts from ¥600
For more details, check their website here.
Higeta Indigo Dyeing Studio (600 m)
Watch how indigo is made, and the painstaking process of how each indigo cloth is produced. In this modern age where almost everything is automated, marvel at this Japanese tradition of indigo-making, and understand how valuable and rare these indigo products are.
Higeta Indigo Dyeing Studio is located at 1 Jonaizaka, Mashikomachi, Haga district, Tochigi Prefecture and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Monday. You may contact them at +81-285-72-3162. For more details, visit their website here.
4 p.m. Ride a bus to Akihabara.
Return to Mashiko Station, and deposit your bicycles. The last bus to Akihabara Station leaves at 4 p.m. and reaches Akihabara Station at around 7:10 p.m.
Provided by Karaksa Media Partner (25 March 2019)