Booking out of the hotel our next stop was to locker our bags at Ueno station and get a shinkansen train to Utsunomiya and from there a bus to Mashiko.
I’d read about Mashiko and it’s pottery in a guide book and having never been in that part of the countryside was hoping to see some great pottery, possibly some potters work and more of the country.
As we were there on a Monday a few more places were closed than I was expecting and none of the kilns or potters were actually working that day. We did spent about 3 hours going from store to store. Some of the pottery is very cheap and some very expensive but as far as we could tell it all seemed to have been made in the actual town (there were one or two places that felt and looked slightly less authentic so we didn’t spend time looking at those). It was very quiet with many of the shops closed and one shop had photos of the stores from the day of the recent earthquake. It had reduced their stock to debris with just piles and piles of broken pottery having to be thrown away. Despite the quiet it was very nice and one day would love to go back and see the town in action with all the stores and workrooms open.
At Ueno station we got our bags and headed to Tokyo station where we needed to be to catch our train to Kyoto. We had some time at Tokyo so thought we’d grab some food. This turned out to be a fantastic idea as we stumbled across a vegan place that had great food. We almost hadn’t looked at it properly as we didn’t want to sit in and have a meal but once I spotted their sign which was cute graphics of animals with a cross through them and realised it was all animal free we sat down and ordered.
Well fed it was time to make our way to Kyoto. When booking and organising the trip the only thing The Englishman asked that we definitely do was to stay in a Japanese pod hotel. He’d researched and found 9hours.jp that looked like something out of Space Odyessey. This place is so awesome that if you are planning a trip to Japan make sure you stay there. I’d even go as far to say that you should plan a trip to Japan just so you can stay there.
The pillows in the pod are a large U shape and are half wheat (I think) and are some heavy and comforting. If it had fitted I think I would have put one in my bag to bring home. During your stay ladies get a black long pants and tshirt set to wear and men get a more traditional Japanese outfit to wear in navy blue. You also get a toothbrush, body wash and shampoo/conditioner.
After a long day traveling, a shower a soak in the incredibly hot bath and a pod programed to wake me up the next morning by slowly lifting the ambient lighting I was ready to convert my entire house to a pod!