Showing posts with label arita. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arita. Show all posts

Friday, May 24, 2024

Yodohime Shrine & Yabusa Shrine: Statues as Shintai


In the immediate vicinity of Hoko-in Temple near Arita I visited two small, local shrines that were interesting because they both had statues as shintai.

Shintai are the objects, usually hidden inside the honden of a shrine,  into which the kami "descend". In some cases, possibly the original form shintai took before the introduction of Buddhism brought the notion of sacred architecture, shintai are trees, large rocks, and even mountains.

I have often read that shintai must be mirrors, but that is a State Shinto rule meant to elevate Amaterasu. In roadside hokora most of the shintai I have seen have been largish stones. Until the separation of Buddhas and kami in early Meiji, many shintai were in fact Buddhist statues.

These first four photos are of a Yodohime Shrine. There are quite a few in this part of Kyushu, and as you can see the honden is actually just a hokora with its doors open showing the statue. Yodohime was the grandmother of Jimmu, the mythical first emperor, but around here she is considered a water deity. The statue looks very Buddhist to me but because of the bib some details can't be seen.

The second shrine is called Yabusa Shrine and I can find no information about iit or who is enshrined here.

Like the Yodohime Shrine it is really just a stone hokora with a small worship hall in front.

As you can see, the statue of the "kami" looks very Buddhist, and the hands are even doing mudras.

The previous post in this series was on the .Yasaka Shrine in Arita.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Kyushu Ceramic Museum


The Kyushu Ceramic Museum is a large, modern museum devoted to ceramics produced in Kyushu but predominantly locally produced Arita ware. For anyone with an interest in ceramics it is a must visit site.

It is located on a hill not far from Arita JR railway station.

The museum has a collection of more than 30,000 pieces, about 1,500 of which are on display at any one time, so if you have been before, a later visit will have different works on display.

There are also temporary themed exhibitions as well as the changing exhibits from the permanent collection.

The museum has two big collections donated by private collectors, one focussing on Arita ware made for the domestic market and one exclusively on works exported.

There is also a gallery devoted to contemporary ceramics of Kyushu.

There are a couple of other, smaller museums in Arita specializing in ceramics, but this is the biggest.

The museum is one from 9 to 5 except Mondays. Entry is free.

The previous post in this series exploring Arita was on the famous porcelain shrine.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Tozan Shrine Arita: Japan's Porcelain Shrine


Tozan is the popular reading of the kanji for Sueyama, the official name of this shrine in the old town of Arita in Saga.

While most torii entrances are made of stone, concrete, wood, and even sometimes metal, the one here is made of porcelain.

Not only that, but some of the komainu, lanterns, and other features are also made of porcelain.

Arita is said to be the origin of Japanese porcelain, when kaolin, the fine white clay used to make porcelain was discovered nearby in the early 17th century.

The local legend has it that it was a man named Yi Sam-pyeong, a Korean known in Japanese as Kanagae Sanbee, who discovered the kaolin deposit , and a bust of him stands in the shrine. (photo 3)

The shrine was founded in 1658 as Arita Sarayama Sobyo Hachimangu, with the name changing in early Meiji to Sueyama Shrine.

As a Hachimangu the primary kami would be Hachiman, considered an incarnation of Ojin a semi-mythical early Emperor.

In 1923 Nabeshima Naoshige was enshrined here. He was the local Daimyo credited with "bringing" many Korean potters to the area during his retreat from Korea at the end of Hideyoshi's invasion.

Many sources use fairly passive verbs to describe this "resettling" of Koreans but in reality they were kidnapped and enslaved.

Many of the estimated 50,000 to 200,000 Korean captives were farmers but technicians like potters were much sought after. Kidnapped Korean potters were responsible for Satsuma ware and Hagi ware, but also mining engineers, movable-type printers and even Confucian scholars were also kidnapped accompanied by massive looting of art such as temple bells and statues.

The previous post in this series exploring Arita was on the surrounding Historic Preservation District.

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

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Hokao Shrine Arita


Hokao Shrine is a small, local shrine on top of a rise next to the river at the southern end of the old town of Arita in Saga.

It is built in concrete, and something about it struck me as more attractive than many concrete shrines.

It has two pairs of komainu, the first pair dating to early 21st century.

There was no signboard, and no information I could find on the web. Like many local shrines, origin and even kami enshrined are lost in time.

The second set of komainu dated back to the 1920's.

I found this small Ebisu statue intriguing. Ebisu is very popular in the area, as in all of what is now Nagasaki and Saga.

The previous post was on Arita Porcelain Park.

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.