Recently, I had a chance to visit Arita in Saga Prefecture. I’ve already written articles on Japamigo about a couple of spots that I really enjoyed in the town – the Galaxy Glaze Kiln Showroom and the Gallery Arita Cafe.
That’s not all there is to see and do in this part of Japan, though! If you’re interested in all things pottery, here are three more sights that you shouldn’t miss when you visit the region.
Arita Porcelain Park (有田ポーセリンパーク)
Designed more like something you’d find in the heart of Europe rather than the Japanese countryside, the Arita Porcelain Park boasts of both grandeur and grace. The large building on the grounds is a replica of Germany’s Zwinger Palace, and inside you can explore a whole host of displays including both European and locally-made pottery. The park grounds also have several eateries, hands-on pottery making experiences, and various stores to purchase pottery pieces.
Tozan Shrine (陶山神社)
If you’ve been to several different shrines in Japan there are certain things you may come to expect, such as being greeted by bright red painted torii arches first. Arita’s Tozan Shrine does things quite differently though – it welcomes you to the grounds with a blue and white porcelain torii arch. You’ll also find other unique porcelain pieces as you wander around, including porcelain ema (絵馬), which are the small plaques that you write prayers and wishes on, and porcelain komainu (狛犬), otherwise known as the lion-dog statues that you’ll see guarding many shrines in Japan. Tozan Shrine is one of the most interesting shrines I’ve visited in Japan, and I love that it has some unique local flair added to it.
Also, if you have a goshuincho (御朱印帳, shrine stamp book) be sure to bring it along when you visit – their stamp is possibly my favorite of all the stamps of the shrines I’ve visited in Japan.
Arita Porcelain Lab (アリタポーセリンラボ)
Alongside the tradition of a pottery town, there’s a spot which is putting its own unique spin on this highly revered craft. Arita Porcelain Lab is striving to bring Arita-yaki into the modern era, and they offer practical ideas on how to use their pottery pieces in your own home. They’ve got everything you need to create gorgeous table settings, including a range which looked perfect for the upcoming festive season.
If you’re visiting Saga Prefecture or have an interest in pottery, Arita is a must-visit destination. I hope you’ll enjoy the area as much as I did!
Arita Porcelain Park information
340-28 Chubuotsu, Arita-cho, Nishimatsura-gun, Saga Prefecture 844-0014
The park is under a 10-minute taxi ride from Arita Station on the JR Sasebo Line. If you’re headed there by private vehicle there is plenty of free parking available on site.
The park is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week.
The park is free to enter, but if you want to head inside the replica Zwinger Palace to check out the pottery displays there is a ¥500 entry fee.
https://www.arita-touki.com/ (in Japanese)
Tozan Shrine information
2-5-1 Odaru, Arita-cho, Nishimatsura-gun, Saga Prefecture 844-0004
The closest station to the shrine is Kami-Arita on the JR Sasebo Line. The shrine is approximately ten minutes on foot from the station.
Admission is free. You can buy small trinkets at the site and for those only cash is accepted, so be sure to have some yen on you.
http://arita-toso.net/ (in Japanese)
Arita Porcelain Lab information
1-11-3 Kamihirahei, Arita-cho, Nishimatsura-gun, Saga Prefecture 844-0003
The closest station to the store is also Kami-Arita on the JR Sasebo Line. It’s just a short walk away from Tozan Shrine.
They are open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Closed on Tuesdays.