To travel to the pottery town of Mashiko from Tokyo is not all that difficult. There
are two main options to do this. One route is done solely by using trains and the
other is a combination of using trains and a bus. The route using all trains requires
a number of transfers, and at one point one of the trains splits en route (the front
cars going to one place and the back cars going to another), so it can be difficult
if you do not speak a bit of the language. These following pages will discuss using
the slightly easier combination of using a train and a bus.
The first step is to book yourself some Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets from Tokyo
Eki (station) to Ustunomiya Eki. At the time of this writing (10/30/2012) that will
cost you 4800 円 for a reserved seat ticket
on a Yamabiko type train. If you have a JapanRail Pass or an Japan East Railpass,
this high speed train trip is covered by that. The trip from Tokyo to Utsunomiya
will take you 49 minutes from your departure time.
When you arrive at Utsunomiya Eki you’ll depart onto a platform like the one shown
here to the right. You’ll proceed down a staircase like that seen in the background
to the terminal’s main arrival floor.
Once downstairs to the main floor, you will follow the signs (in English) and walk
toward the West Exit. Utsunomiya is a large city, so there are plenty of English
language signs. At this point you have a choice of how to proceed in the station.
If you look out the windows to the right in the platform image above, you will see
a raised platform above a series of bus pickup stations. The view there will be what
you see here in the image to the left.