Do you love Japanese pottery? Would you like to buy some beautiful and artistic souvenirs from Japan? How about flowers? Would you like to go flower viewing during the remaining springtime? If so, here are two events in Kasama City (笠間市), Ibaraki Prefecture (茨城県) that you must not miss this Golden Week 2017!
Kasama is well known for its pottery production. The pottery made in Kasama is called Kasama ware (笠間焼) and is famous all over Japan. The history of Kasama ware began in the Edo era (江戸時代) over 200 years ago.
Thanks to the efforts of Kasama City and its people, in spite of the prevalence of cheap mass-produced plates, this tradition has been inherited from generation to generation and is still alive up to now. Annually, they hold an event called “Kasama no Himatsuri” where the whole city celebrates the traditional craft. About 500,000 people visit this festival every year.
This 2017, Kasama no Himatsuri will take place from the 29th of April to the 5th of May at the Event Square of Kasama Geijutsu no Mori Park (笠間芸術の森公園イベント会場). There are going to be more than 200 individual potters’ stalls. It’s a gigantic event so even if you are a little bit picky about tableware, you will find your favorite product there!
It’s a festival, which means there are going to be food and drinks, too! You can choose from udon (うどん), soba (蕎麦), tempura (天ぷら), curry, grilled chicken, and pizza, to coffee, tea, juice, matcha (抹茶), sweets, and many others!
It will be exciting to see pottery auctions on stage. If you bring your children, they can enjoy some fun activities too, such as clay modeling, experiencing pottery wheels, face painting, and picture story shows, which are available for free or a very small charge of 200 yen.
To find out more information about the event, you can visit their official website where the local potters and their works are also introduced.
How to Get There
There are two train stations near Kasama Geijutsu no Mori Park: the JR Kasama Station (笠間駅) and the JR Tomobe Station (友部駅). However, I will introduce the easiest (supposedly) way: take a shuttle bus from Tomobe Station.
From the North Exit of Tomobe Station (友部駅北口), you can take a shuttle bus to the Himatsuri venue (East Gate, Geijutsu no Mori Park). During the festival (29th of April to 5th of May, 2017), the shuttle bus service begins at 8:50 AM every day, departing every 15 minutes (every 30 minutes on the 1st and 2nd of May). The last shuttle bus from Tomobe Station to the Himatsuri venue leaves at 3:00 PM (at 4:30 PM on the 3rd of May). It costs 100 yen one way.
The shuttle bus runs from the Himatsuri venue to Tomobe Station’s North Gate, too. The first bus is due at 9:05 AM, while the last bus leaves at 5:10 PM (at 8:30 PM on the 3rd of May). The bus runs every 15 minutes, except on the 1st and 2nd of May where it runs every 30 minutes.
If you haven’t enjoyed Himatsuri enough and still want to explore Kasama City, why not take a free shuttle bus from Geijutsu no Mori Park and explore Tsutsuji Park (つつじ公園)? “Tsutsuji” means “azaleas” in Japanese and azaleas in Kasama City are in full bloom during April.
From the 15th of April to the 7th of May, 2017, Tsutsuji Park will hold the Tsutsuji Festival. There is a small mountain within the park estate where you can see the whole city from its summit. During this festival, you will be able to enjoy hiking and azalea viewing at the same time.
Between the venue for Himatsuri and Tsutsuji Park, the shuttle bus runs approximately every 30 minutes from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The admission to Tsutsuji Park is 500 yen.
Kasama is culturally very rich. My mother admires their pottery and often drives to the city. It’s always worth the visit, especially during the Golden Week when there will be two big festivals. It’s a fantastic place to go!