All Fired Up Arita’s Ceramics Festivals Turns 100!
Around this time each year, work-weary folk in Japan turn their thoughts to the upcoming Golden Week break. What to do? Where to go, especially when you can be sure there will be crowds of people everywhere? Despite the holiday madness, a consistently popular destination for ceramics fans from near and far has been Arita’s annual ceramics festival, which celebrates its 100th year this May. The festival began as an outlet for Arita’s legendary ceramic artists to flog chipped or faulty wares, and its popularity has escalated to the point some 900,000 visitors now attend. Because the defects are usually minor, buyers can snap up Arita’s prestigious wares at comparatively excellent prices. A large choice of inexpensive samples and discontinued lines adds to the shopping frenzy.
During the festival, Arita’s 5 km-long main street is transformed into a cheery bazaar with 650 ceramics stalls lining both sides. To boost your bargaining credibility, dress in ceramic shopaholic mufti. You’ll need a hat to block those springtime rays, comfy walking shoes and pants, and a rucksack to leave your hands free for inspecting items. Cotton gloves will help protect from the gritty porcelain dust covering many of the wares. You’ll also want a copy of the Arita Ceramics Festival Guide Map, available at parking areas and information booths. These handy maps contain shop descriptions, toilet and cloak room locations, police whereabouts and more. Mark in the shops you want to visit and those you’ve liked, in case you need to find them again. Finally, chat with shop staff as much as possible to pick up shopping tips and to enjoy your visit more. Get ready for Golden Week it’s nearly here!
The 100th Arita Ceramics Festival (Arita, Saga)
When: Apr. 29 (hol.) May 5 (hol.)
Inquiries: Arita Chamber of Commerce 0955-42-4111
Getting there: (By JR) 5 min. walk from Arita Stn.; (by car) West Kyushu Expressway to Hasami-Arita IC, then 5 min. to Arita