Arita is internationally known as a town of porcelain, Arita porcelain, located in the southern part of Saga prefecture in Kyushu. A potter from Korea, Re Sampei discovered a fine-quality white porcelain mineral in Mt. Arita-Izumi 400 years ago and began produced porcelain for the first time in Japan.
Every year, Arita holds a town wide ceramics fair for one week from end of April to beginning of May. Stores throughout the town sell ceramics during the fair and more than 850,000 people visit the small town. Products range from rice bowls priced at $1 a piece to painted plates that cost tens of thousands of yen.
The best part about visiting the fair is bargaining with the vendors. In Japan when buying products at places like department stores, customers normally pay what is marked on the price tag. At the fair, though, most customers ask vendors for a discount and buy a product only when the price has come down to an agreeable level.
I remember first time I visited the fair with my mother and sister 20 years ago. We looked around hundreds of products from one store to another with fascination. I felt myself becoming a little more discerning after looking so many of them.
Not only during the ceramics fair, but also you can enjoy Arita through the year.
The Arita Ceramic Art Museum in town has exquisite pottery and porcelain pieces. You can also experience making your own special ceramic dish or piece of art, painting your own design on a plate, cup or bowl and create a unique piece of art, visiting potteries and seeing superior techniques by expert craftsman and their careful work with your own eyes, and visiting porcelain studio for shopping.
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