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A Look at Arita Ware

This is a promotional video for Japanese porcelain mainly produced in Arita, Saga Prefecture, produced by Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square.

If you are interested in learning how the traditional Japanese craft Arita ware is made or the history and culture of Arita Ware, this two-minute video is just what you're looking for!
Here we'll introduce the culture and appeal Arita Ware, a traditional craft that is the pride of Japan.
Nowadays, beautiful Japanese tableware is attracting a lot of attention from overseas, and many people visit Japan to create their own original tableware through pottery-making experiences such as Arita Ware.

The History of Arita Ware

Image of Arita Ware coffee cup
Photo:Arita Ware coffee cup

Arita ware refers to a type of Japanese porcelain produced in Arita, Saga and the area surrounding the town.
Arita Ware is also known as Imari Ware and has over 400 years of the history as a traditional Japanese craft.
It dates back 100 years before Meissen which is believed to have been the first place to produce porcelain in Europe.

The start of Imari/Arita Ware was the discovery of pottery stones, the raw material used to make porcelain, in the Arita Izumiyama Magnet Field in Arita, Saga.
Since no country in Europe was able to produce such white, thin, hard, and shiny porcelain in the 17th century, Arita Ware was popular among European nobles and began being exported to other countries in the late 17th century.
Because the products were shipped from a port in Imari, Saga, Arita ware is also called Imari ware.

The Characteristics of Arita Ware, a Traditional Japanese Craft and a Famous Important Cultural Property

Arita porcelain is a thin, hard, pure white porcelain with a pure white base.
The porcelain has shiny surfaces and makes a light metallic sound when tapped.
It has a white background with a pattern called "etsuke," and is carefully hand-painted by a craftsman after being fired unglazed.
The characteristics of etsuke reflect the culture of each period.
One of the characteristics of Arita Ware is the various methods of expression depending on the method of painting and molding.

The main variations are "hakuji" (white porcelain), "youkoku" (relief), "sometsuke" (blue and white), "iroe" (colored patterns), "seiji" (celadon), "ruriyu" (lapis lazuli), "sabiyu" (iron glaze) and "shinsha" (cinnabar). Every variation is as beautiful as the last.
Arita ware is highly valued in Japan. For example, more than 10 works, including "Iroe Botan Shishi Mon Choushi" (a bottle with colored peony and lion patterns) and "Sometsuke Kaki Mon Tokkuri" (a bottle with blue and white flower patterns) are designated as Important Cultural Properties in Japan.

The Traditional Way of Making Arita Ware

Arita ware is made through the following eight steps: quarrying, powdering, pugging, casting, terracotta, underglaze painting, glazing and baking.
Therefore, many craftsmen work together to make a single piece of Arita Ware.

Yukio Suzuta, the director of the Kyushu Ceramic Museum in Saga, said in the video: "Arita Ware is a division of labor, and there is a system in place to provide work to as many people as possible."

The climate nurtures the culture, and through the hands of many artisans, a piece of art is born.
Check out the video to see Arita Ware being made.

Arita Ware Prices and Products

Image of Arita Ware pottery market
Photo:Arita Ware pottery market

Arita ware is highly valued as tableware for everyday use.
Products such as paired bowls and mugs make great gifts as well.
While expensive products cost more than a million yen, but there are also discounted teacups that are easily purchased for less than 1,000 yen (~$10 USD).
Many Arita ware products are sold on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Rakuten, with the most popular products being coffee cups, mugs and Japanese teacups.
Tourists visit the Arita Ceramics Fair, an annual festival held for Golden Week, to get Arita ware at reasonable prices.

Summary of the Culture and Charms of Arita Ware

While experiencing the history of Arita Ware, you can see the beautiful cityscape of Arita and the skills of the craftsmen who make the porcelain.
Arita Ware is a traditional Japanese craft with a history older than the world-famous Meissen porcelain.

In just two minutes, you can learn about the history, industry, characteristics, and craftsmanship of Arita Ware, so if you're interested in learning more, be sure to watch the video!
Enjoy the world of traditional Arita Ware!

【Official Website】Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels
Arita Ware: A Traditional Japanese Craft of Arita, Saga That Was Coveted by European Royalty and Aristocracy in the 17th Century. Older Than Even the World-Famous Meissen!
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