Arita, in the west of Saga prefecture, is a town of around 20,000 people whose main focus and claim to fame is pottery. Founded around 400 years ago by Korean and Japanese potters, it soon became the porcelain capital of Asia.
Since then, the names Arita-yaki and Imari pottery (Imari being the nearby port from which it was shipped internationally) have become synonymous with high-quality porcelain throughout the world. Pottery remains the main form of employment for most townsfolk today.
Visitors can wander the beautiful Meiji era shopping street and go to various old and famous kilns that are still in use today. The area is also surrounded by beautiful mountains, and the quieter West Arita area is known for its terraced rice fields.
For those living in Arita, the small-town feel means that people can get to know each other well and it’s easy to become familiar with all the back streets and restaurants.
However for those who may only get one chance to visit Arita, the best time may be during the annual Ceramic Fair, held in Golden Week each year. At this time, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the scenery and purchase porcelain and other local wares.
Arita can be accessed via JR Express train from Hakata, on the Sasebo line. For those coming from other parts of Saga prefecture, change trains at Saga or Hizen Yamaguchi to access the Sasebo line.
For more information about Arita, or for a tour of the backstreets, talk to Nyomi!