Mashiko-yaki (Mashiko ware) from Tochigi Prefecture is a prime example of the folkcraft revival, or Mingei movement, that took place in Japan in the early 20th century. Mashiko ware was first produced during the Edo era (1603-1867) as simple utilitarian pottery for everyday use, but began to decline in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. It was not until the artists Soetsu Yanagi, Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai started the Mingei movement in the early 1920s that it was revived. The distinctive folkcraft appearance and modest simplicity of Mashiko ware are a few of its many appealing features.
Hamada Shoji, a lifelong friend of Yanagi Soetsu and arguably one of the most well-known folkcraft potters of the 20th Century, later made Mashiko-yaki famous throughout the world. Establishing his studio and home in Mashiko, Hamada embraced the ideals of the Mingei movement and created pots of modest simplicity, with a human touch. This same spirit can still be found in Mashiko-yaki today.