Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Arita Porcelain Park


Arita Porcelain Park is a small theme park in the hills outside the small town of Arita in Saga with a theme of porcelain and Germany. This connection came about because Arita twinned with Dresden because Dresden had one of the best collections of Arita porcelain anywhere in the world.

When I visited 10 years ago it was already starting to feel dilapidated and as I understand it the last ten years have only added to its decline.

They do have a big example of a climbing kiln, called noborigama, and when I was there they were in the middle of a firing, so that was cool to see.

One of the few remaining activities at the park are classes in making and decorating ceramics with the pieces you create being sent on to you after firing.

The highlight of the park is the impressive replica of the Zwinger, a Baroque palace from the early 18th Century, built by King Augustus who collected East Asian porcelain. The Zwinger replica used to show exhibits of European porcelain and Arita ceramics, but is now closed.

Besides a couple of souvenir shops and a restaurant the park unusually has a large, modern drugstore specializing in tax-free products for the busloads of primarily Asian tourists. At the entrance of the park is a new, modern brewery making sake and shochu. They bought the park in 2015 and tours are popular.

Built just after the "bubble" burst, it is like hundreds of other dilapidated monuments around Japan to an overly optimistic expectation of tourist numbers that never came close to being realized and I suspect it will not be long till its doors close for good.. If you are in the area it is maybe worth a visit for some "Instagram" shots of the Zwinger, which was the subject of the previous post in this series on day 70 of my walk around Kyushu.


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