Tokoname Pottery Footpath
The Pottery Footpath is a hilly 1.8km trail around the town's historic centre. Start by collecting a walking map from the Tourist Information Center inside Tokoname Station (you'll need to follow it carefully, as the signage on the footpath itself is suboptimal). Lining the path are kilns and their attached brick chimneys, cafes and galleries, with numbered plaques corresponding to the walking map indicating the stops along the way. A series of maneki-neko (ceramic 'lucky' cats) greets you as you head towards the beginning of the path. If you look up, you'll see 'Toko-nyan', the mother of all lucky cats, looming above: one for Instagrammers.
At stop 8, the restored Takita Residence, c 1850, was the home of a shipping magnate. Inside are replicas of bishu-kaisen (local trading ships) and displays of ceramics, lacquerware and furniture. Continuing on, the pipe-and-jug-lined lane at Dokan-zaka Hill (stop 9) is particularly photogenic. Around the back of Noborigahama-hiroba (Climbing Kiln Sq; stop 13) you'll find 10 of the square chimneys that served the gigantic 1887 kiln. It's a five-minute detour from here to the Inax Live Museum, showpiece of one of Japan's largest ceramics manufacturers, housing some 150 elaborately decorated Meiji- and Taisho-era toilets (you read correctly) and Japan's only tile museum.
When you need a rest, atmospheric Koyō-an serves homemade soba (buckwheat noodles) on beautiful local pottery. Or dine near the giant cat, at cosy Nakamuraya, whose specialities are una-don (eel on rice) and Nagoya's famous hitsumabushi (charcoal-grilled eel).