Sunday, May 5, 2024

Arita Historic Preservation District


Arita in what is now Saga Prefecture is and was a major ceramics town, specifically Japanese porcelain, which is said to have originated here.

The main part of the old town with a street of merchant and townhouses and kilns located in the northern section, is registered as an historic preservation district.

In 1832 a big typhoon caused fire to spread from the kilns and it engulfed the whole town so everything save one solitary building dates from after that time.

Many are built in Western-style.

Many are now gift shops selling local porcelain souvenirs, although a couple are museums.

In the northern part of the town, near the kilns, walls have been built by recycling kiln bricks.

There are currently more than 120 of these preservation districts around Japan, covering a wide range of architecture and including merchant towns, samurai quarters, ports, farming villages, temple towns etc.

Some of the better ones are located off the main tourist routes and so retain a measure of authenticity that is lacking in the major tourist areas where the architecture seems more like a theme park

Not far from Arita I visited a couple of other preservation districts, like the thatched roof townscape of Hizen Hamashuku, and the nearby sake brewing district. Other districts I liked from this walk around Kyushu were the port of Mimitsu, and the merchant town of Hita.

The previous post in this series exploring Arita was on Hokao Shrine


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