The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park celebrates the area's long history with in pottery.
It is accessible by train to Shigaraki Station then by bus.
From Kyoto, take the JR Biwako line to Kusatsu (note that the JR Tokaido main line is also known as the Biwako line in this area). From Kusatsu, take the Kusatsu line to Kibukawa. From Kibukawa, take the Shigaraki-Kogen-Tetsudo railway to Shigaraki station. From Shigaraki station you can walk or take a 5 minute bus on the Koka City Community Bus Service.
It's beleived that Shigaraki got its start in pottery and ceramics in 742, making tiles for a nearby palace. Over time, the color and quality of Shigaraki clay became appreciated for tea utensils. Now, the Shigaraki area is known as one of the six great pottery regions of Japan.
These days, Shigaraki continues to produce high-end ceramic art. The style is often warm in color and in a "wabi-sabi" style that celebrates simplicity and imperfection. The area also makes lots of humble household implements. Uniquely, Shigaraki is famous for its tanuki statues, from a few inches tall to bigger than an adult man. The tanuki raccoon dog is a forest critter who stands outside bars and izakaya, inviting passers by to have a drink. His goofy inebriated smile also brings good luck.
The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park aims to expose visitors to this ancient and continuing heritage. It has multiple exhibition halls displaying fine art as well as industrial ceramics. It also hosts research facilities, artists in residence, and hands-on experiences for visitors. There is an annual pottery festival and sale, but the dates have shifted in recent years so check ahead.