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Walking through Arita, the city of porcelain

In the winter of 2022, I visited Arita City, Saga Prefecture, which is famous as a major producer of porcelain. The traditional craft (Arita ware) that has been passed down for more than 400 years has now become the identity of this area, creating an unforgettable landscape.

History of Arita ware

At the end of the 16th century, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi dispatched troops to Korea, the potter Lee Sampyeong, who was brought back by Nabeshima Naoshige, discovered pottery stone for porcelain in Izumiyama Arita, and this is how Arita ware began. Nowadays, pottery stone from Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, which is called ``a rare high-quality raw material in the world that can be used to make porcelain by itself,'' is used, but Arita can procure very high-quality pottery stone from nearby areas. One of the characteristics of Arita ware is that it has ``painting that shows the color of the base'', which is probably due to the beautiful base that is clear and transparent.

The kilns that represent Arita ware are Kakiemon Kiln, Imaemon Kiln, Risho Kiln, and Fukagawa Seiji. There are many facilities where you can learn about the history and manufacturing process of Arita porcelain, as well as many famous Arita ware pottery shops, so we highly recommend taking a leisurely tour of the potteries.

Arita cityscape

The streets of Arita had a beautiful old townscape and gave me the impression that it was a place where I could spend a relaxing time. Not only does it retain a strong history and culture as a pottery producing area, but there is also an area where buildings from the Meiji and Taisho eras remain, lined with Japanese historical buildings for about 2km. A wall made of bricks used to build a climbing kiln called a tonbai fence, and a telephone booth with a porcelain handle give you a sense of the area's long history of a thriving ceramics industry.

The Tonbai wall, made from discarded bricks from climbing kilns used to fire porcelain and broken plates, is also part of the town.

Recommended shops

Tezuka Shoten is located in the aforementioned Uchiyama district. Tezuka Shoten, with its characteristic stucco walls, is one of the representative buildings of Arita during the Taisho period. You can purchase works by young artists active in Arita.

Yasuna is a kaiseki restaurant that uses Arita ware utensils.A Japanese restaurant that uses plenty of local ingredients and can be enjoyed with Arita ware ware. It's a comfortable semi-private space, so it's a great place to take a break during your trip.

Although we now live in an age where we can enjoy things and things anywhere, we believe that there are hints to enriching our lives by learning about Japan's ancient aesthetic sensibilities and ways of living. In addition to disseminating information about towns, architecture, crafts, and food that are connected to Japan's ancient aesthetic sensibilities, we also operate a select shop that focuses on handicrafts. If you are interested, please check the select shops as well.

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