Crossroads Japan

Arita: Japan's 400-year-old porcelain town

Updated 28th December 2017
(CNN) — A quiet Japanese town with a population of less than 20,000, Arita has been responsible for one of Japan's most prestigious exports since the 17th century.
Arita's obsession with porcelain ware, registered officially as one of the Traditional Crafts of Japan in 1977, dates back more than 400 years.
Located in Japan's Kyushu region, the town has been one of Japan's best-known places to produce porcelain since the discovery of raw materials in the neighborhood in 1616.
Porcelain wares created in Arita, using traditional methods, are almost glass-like. They're light and thin yet durable and each of the works is painted in gorgeous patterns.
It's become a popular export -- mainly to Europe -- since the late 17th century.
Today, fewer porcelain kilns are in operation.
The remaining ceramic artisans insist on producing Arita wares the traditional way in order to preserve this historical asset. Each of the pieces is fired for multiple days before it's painted by hand.
In addition to shops selling the wares there are multiple porcelain-themed attractions around town including The Porcelain Park -- a museum and shrine with a ceramic archway.
To find out more about Arita and its porcelain artisans, check out the above video.
Getting there:
The closest airports to Arita are Saga Airport and Nagasaki Airport.
It's about an hour's JR train ride from Saga to Arita Station and about an hour's drive from Nagasaki to Arita.