Ceramics For Tea
The Arita Porcelain Fair is the biggest porcelain festival in Japan and one of the most noted festivities held during Golden Week (from April 29th through to May 5th). Porcelain enthusiasts head to the small, mountain community of Arita from all over Japan, bringing an energetic atmosphere to the town. The festival started in 1915 and now there are over 650 shops in the 5km distance between the two main stations. This loud and lively atmosphere lasts until sunset. Itís a good time to see the works of young artists as well as hunting for valuable purchases.
Arita is a town located in Saga Prefecture, the present day name for the old area of Hizen on the southern island of Kyushu. The first porcelain deposits in Japan were discovered here. In the early 1600s, Nabeshima Naoshige, the feudal lord of the Sage Clan, brought a group of Korean potters to Japan. Included in the group was the potter Risampei, who in 1616 discovered superior white-stoned clay at Izumiyama, a mountain in the area of Arita. Wares fired with this earth are called "hakuji" (white porcelain). Some say this was the beginning of Arita ware. The wares were made primarily for export, and often use over glazed enamel pigments.
Porcelain produced in Arita was normally shipped to other Japanese cities and elsewhere in Asia and Europe from the port city of Imari. So porcelain from this area is also called "Imari" ware. Naming conventions for porcelain are sometimes difficult to grasp. As porcelain grew in popularity, the Nabeshima Clan took steps to keep their production and decorating techniques a closely guarded secret. They were aided in this effort by the Tokugawa Shogunate and other feudal lords, who commissioned the Nabeshima Clan to make porcelain for only the elite classes. The sale of Nabeshima ware to commoners was actually forbidden, and the number of kilns and wheels was strictly limited by law.