Renowned for its pottery and porcelain, Arita Town in Saga Prefecture was where porcelain was first produced in Japan.
Ceramic museums dot the Town exhibiting ceramic collections and the history of ceramics. These include the Arita Ceramic Museum which is the first registered museum in Saga prefecture, the Zwinger Palace in Arita Porcelain Park which provides insight ino the influence of Arita porcelain on European designs, and the world-renowned Kyushu Ceramic Museum.
Built to contribute to the preservation of the local cultural heritage and the development of ceramics and pottery culture throughout the Kyushu region, the Kyushu Ceramic Museum first opened its doors in 1980.
Famous around the world for its fine ceramics, the Kyushu Ceramic Museum currently exhibits various ceramic collections such as the Kanbara Collection and the Shibata Collection. Porcelain embellishments decorate the building making it a sight to behold.
Arita Town holds the annual Arita Ceramic Fair which is the largest ceramic fair in Western Japan where over a million people take part in the event. With over 500 individual stalls stretching from JR Arita Station to the town center, high-quality ceramic products are sold at bargain prices.
When visiting on a typical day when no special events are held, there are thousands of unique pieces to choose from in the hundreds of pottery shops that abound the town.
Izumiyama Quarry, the site where kaolin stone used to make porcelain was first discovered, plays a major part in Arita Town’s history. Now, visitors can view the exposed rocks from a nearby observation area as there’s no active mining presently.
Usually made of stone, the Komainu statues that guard the gates of Tozan Shrine are made of porcelain. Characteristic Tonbai walls across Arita Town are pieces of history made from old kiln bricks and broken pottery carefully crafted to transport you back in time and get a glimpse of the past.
With porcelain across the area from walls to statues, the town itself is a living porcelain museum.
Evolving While Protecting Tradition
Established in 1891 as a wholesaler, Marubun Co., Ltd. has been specializing in Arita porcelain and continues to create high-quality products.
In the early 16th century, a Korean potter who visited Izumiyama in Arita Town discovered kaolin clay, a very fine-grade material used for creating ceramic tiles. That was the very first time that ceramic ware was created in Japan. Because of this, the town developed into a prosperous center of porcelain production.
Currently, there are about 150 factories in and around Arita Town, producing tableware for restaurants and inns, as well as for home use.
In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Arita porcelain, Marubun Co., Ltd. released ZOA JAPAN in 2016. ZOA, an abbreviation for “Zero Origin Arita,” signifies the origin of Arita porcelain.
Balancing past, present, and future, the talented craftsmen continue to preserve tradition while innovating to go with the times.
Experience the Past and Future of Arita Porcelain Through the Present
For over four centuries, the Arita porcelain craftsmen have been creating outstanding products by making the best use of the techniques of each era, while the Arita porcelain artisans expressing themselves through paintings, have been refining their own skills and sense to create masterpieces.
Arita porcelain is mainly divided into 3 main types, namely, the Kakiemon style with overglaze decoration called enamel ceramics, the Ko-Imari style with notable features such as vivid colors and gold paintings, and the Nabeshima style which only uses red, yellow, and green colors on a blue background.
The design inside the “O” in the inscription of ZOA is the origin of Arita porcelain which means “Izumi" from the "Izumiyama magnet field.” The determination to return to the "origin" and continue to work diligently in creating Arita porcelain is expressed through the inscription on the ZOA “Zero Origin Arita.”
Utilizing the craftsmanship that has been nurtured and handed down over a long history, ZOA “Zero Origin Arita” proposes a beautiful Arita porcelain that is "smart" and "modern" with the addition of decoration techniques.
ZOA Prime Series
Inspired by the early Imari porcelain pattern of the mid-17th century, the “ZOA Prime Series” products are entirely hand-painted by creative craftsmen.
ZOA Daily Series
Considering the modern + artistic sense + cost, the innovative craftsmen have created a target product for the “ZOA Daily Series” by consciously contorting the design and using the pad printing method.
Presently, molding and painting techniques have evolved and various ceramics are being made all over the world, but Arita ceramics still remain the best in the world overall.
Make Everyday Special with Arita Ware
A cup of coffee with a loved one, meals served in Arita ware shared with family, and even quiet moments with yourself as you sip tea poured into your favorite cup.
In the end, these little moments are what matter the most. The talented artisans have painted a variety of designs to meet both the traditional and modern tastes of customers.
We hope you enjoy your every day by making them special with the ceramic wares carefully crafted to perfection by the highly-skilled craftsmen of Arita porcelain.