Arita, in Saga Prefecture, is a town known for its pottery. As you wander around the streets of the region, you’ll see various stores selling all manner of gorgeous goods created locally – there’s everything from ornate vases to adorable chopstick rests, cups, saucers and more. One particular store that I fell in love with was a showroom for products from Gyokuho Kiln (玉峰窯). This kiln is best known for their “galaxy glaze” products, which have to be some of the most beautiful pottery pieces you’ll ever set your eyes upon.
Tetsuaki Nakao’s galaxy glaze
The concept of the “galaxy glaze” was created by the pottery artisan Tetsuaki Nakao, who worked on the concept for ten years to perfect it. He wanted to create a form of pottery that ultimately showed the beauty of the universe, and the sparkling look that the products have is due to the glaze crystallising under the extreme heat of the kiln itself. One of the best things about galaxy glaze pottery is that no two pieces are the same, so if you are after a truly unique souvenir from your travels to Saga Prefecture, this is the spot to pick something up from. Nakao’s galaxy glaze pottery pieces have been exhibited everywhere from the Louvre in Paris to the Queen Victoria Gallery in London, and he has received multiple awards and prizes for the quality and beauty of his work. Once you see the pieces in person, you’ll be able to understand why – pictures can’t do them justice!
The different glaze types
As is often the case in Japan, there is a seasonal element to the glazes that Nakao uses for his pottery pieces. The spring galaxy glaze is said to be a reminder of the brightness of fresh green leaves. The summer galaxy glaze is designed to look like a star-filled sky on a clear summer night. The autumn glaze is inspired by the colors of fall foliage, and the winter galaxy glaze is intended to look like a covering of snow or frost. You’ll see pieces at the showroom that represent all the glaze types.
What to purchase
There are a range of different pieces available for purchase at the showroom. One teacup we saw was so perfectly created that it was priced at ¥250,000, or approximately US$2,500! Don’t worry though – there are pieces that are priced much more affordably if a $2,500 teacup is outside your budget like it was for mine. We decided on a couple of mugs that were in their imperfect section, which were ¥3,000 each (about $30). To us they’re still beautiful, and perhaps even more so because of their imperfections. The imperfect creations will be in plastic tubs on the floor of the showroom, so keep your eyes peeled.
Gyokuho Kiln Information
2-3-5 Ootaru, Arita-cho, Nishimatsuura-gun, Saga Prefecture 844-0004
If you’re headed there by public transport, the closest train station is Kami-Arita on the JR Sasebo Line. The showroom is a short walk from there.
Accepted methods of payment
Both cash and major credit cards are accepted.