A hidden potters’ village, where craftsmen honed their skills.
Arita ware porcelain boasts a 400-year history. But a related technique that branched off from Arita ware over 300 years ago, known as Nabeshima ware porcelain, was made secretly in Okawachiyama. The domains of Nabeshima had excellent potters, and they constructed a kiln in a narrow, remote valley. They took care not to leak their advanced technology to the outside, and they made only gifts and items given in tribute to the Shogun. Enigmatic and mysterious, the ceramic village of Okawachiyama was designated a National Historic Site and it now garners greater attention. Take a stroll through the town and explore the charms of Nabeshima ware porcelain.
A compact town with numerous points of interest.
The main street of Okawachiyama is a sloping cobblestone road. Both sides are lined with pottery workshops, while brick chimneys give the streets a pleasant atmosphere. Currently, the town is home to about 30 ceramics workshops. There is a map created in porcelain posted at the town entrance, as well as large pots are placed along a bridge in the area. In addition, Nabeshima Domain Kiln Park extends across 15,000 square meters to the south of the town. It houses a climbing kiln as well as many pottery objects from older times. The sound of the 14 wind chimes made of Nabeshima ware that decorate the Otoshinoto Tower is also a symbol of this town.
View outstanding craftsmanship at Hataman Toen Kiln, which started producing pottery in 1926.
In Okawachiyama, there are many workshops where you can view the handiwork of artisans. Among these, Hataman Toen Kiln (founded in 1926) has inherited a tradition of fine work and has earned a reputation for sophisticated design. It offers a wealth of items from handy-to-use mugs to elegant perfume bottles. All of these are glazed with astonishing delicacy and beauty. Once upon a time, very few people were permitted to touch and handle the luxury of Nabeshima ware porcelain. Why not see for yourself how these elegant pieces are crafted?
- 1806 Okawachicho-otsu, Imari-shi, Saga-ken (Imari Nabeshima Ware Hall)