Visit the Kyushu Ceramic Museum
One way to get acquainted with Arita Yaki (Arita’s ceramic ware) and the ceramic tradition of Kyushu is to visit the Kyushu Ceramic Museum. Through several exhibition rooms, visitors get a clear understanding of the industry’s history, beginning from the time when the first clay quarry was discovered up to today. They also have the chance to admire some of the most beautiful pieces collected throughout centuries. A highlight here is a large ceramic clock, made by 13 local artists with intricate ceramic components; the clock opens up every 30 minutes to display an amazing mechanism and stunning design.
Get a close look at Arita Yaki traditional production process.
At the museum you learn the history of Arita Yaki and have the opportunity to inspect historical samples of it. You’re also given the opportunity to meet with the locals who produce today’s famous ceramics and get a closer look at the traditional ceramic process. Entering this 260 year old Gen-emon kiln is definitely a trip back in time. The studio area and work stations are preserved the wooden style of old days, while the kiln oven is still fired up with red pine wood found in the region. The knowledgeable staff are happy to show you around; the tour is free, detailed, and quite interesting but do note that it is only available in Japanese.
Pay a visit to the porcelain-embellished Sueyama Shrine
These spiritual grounds of Sueyama Shrine, as it is commonly known are adorned with countless stunning porcelain pieces, the most impressive being the torii gate at the top of the steps. This is said to be the only porcelain torii gate in Japan, and is reason enough to visit this place. Sueyama Shrine is also where local ceramicists come to worship the former lord Nabeshima Naoshige and the father of Arita porcelain, Ri Sanpei in whose name, an obelisk was erected at the top of the mountain.
Enjoy the surrounding nature at Arita Dam
As beautiful as Arita ware is, if you’re on a budget, exploring the natural beauty of the area might be a more gentle on your wallet. One stunning location to visit it the natually breathtaking, pristine scenes of Arita Dam. From Arita Station a 10-min drive will take you to the dam’s entrance. Or better yet, rent a bicycle at the tourist information and bike your way around the blue waters, stopping along the way soak up the scenic landscape.
Buy Arita Ware
You should not leave Arita empty handed. A trip to the birthplace of Japanese pottery cannot be complete without taking home at least one of the coveted ceramics found in the area. To stock up on unique pieces you can either visit the ceramic shopping mall north of Arita Station or add some charm to your shopping spree along the historic Uchiyama District. Both are good options, but in Uchiyama the opportunity to wander through traditional architecture is an added bonus. Keep you eyes open for the tables outside the stores where from discounted merchandise is usually kept.