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Educating Arita.

Pottery centre of Kyushu.

sunny

Next day we got up reasonably early and headed to Hakata Station to buy a five day all Kyushu rail pass for 18,000 yen each. This is another thing we like about Kyushu. This pass is cheaper and easier to get than the Japan Rail Pass; you can just buy it from stations in Japan and don't have to sort it out in advance.

We decided pretty much on the spur of the moment to go to Arita on the first day of our pass, so we did not really research it or know what to expect. All we knew was that Arita's historic part was closer to Kami-Arita than to Arita Station and to get there we would change from a fast train to a local train at Takeo Onsen Station.

I enjoyed the slow local train as we could actually see the scenery rather than just whizz past it, but we nearly missed our stop as we had not grasped the system. On a local train in Kyushu you enter via a middle door, which we did, but exit at the front near the driver to show him your ticket. We tried to exit in the middle and could not get the door to open. Fortunately, other passengers helped us and we eventually managed to get off.

Walking from the station we very quickly reached a large pottery shop with lots of beautiful pots and things on display outside it. We went in for a look around and bought a couple of things for a friend whose birthday we'll be celebrating soon. I'd have liked to buy lots more but we just would not have been able to carry them.

Outside the pottery shop.

Outside the pottery shop.

Outside the pottery shop.

Outside the pottery shop.

Outside the shop.

Outside the shop.

In the shop.

In the shop.

In the pottery shop.

In the pottery shop.

In the shop.

In the shop.

Poster showing pottery lessons.

Poster showing pottery lessons.

We then walked towards a tunnel that passed under the railway line. I noticed a tori indicating that there was a shrine on the hill near the entrance to the tunnel so I climbed up to that first.

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At the bottom of the shrine.

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Climbing up to the shrine.

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Climbing up to the shrine.

Through the tunnel we entered old Arita. There was a stream with a bridge over it and signposts indicating that there were sights in both directions. We headed left and noticed a graveyard and temple across another stream. We decided to take a look.

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

Graveyard on a hill.

Graveyard on a hill.

Graveyard on a hill.

Graveyard on a hill.

Graveyard on a hill.

Graveyard on a hill.

Next we passed a building that I'm guessing was a pottery factory. I took photos of a little shrine next to it, but I'm guessing it was private property as a lady came and very politely, after all it is Japan, shooed us away.

Pottery shrine.

Pottery shrine.

Walking on a bit further I spotted a lovely building across the stream set in beautiful grounds. I have no idea what it was. Its garden looked autumnal though it was spring.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

House and garden.

We walked on and soon came to another shrine located on a stream. From an information plaque I learned this place was called the hermitage of Sankoan. In one corner there was the Buddha statue inside a little shelter and in another six Roku-Jizo. These are statues adorned with red cloth which protect the realms in Buddhism. The realms are: hell, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, heavenly beings, and asura - or low-ranking dieties.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

At the shrine.

We continued and arrived at Arita's ceramics museum. It cost a ridiculously cheap one hundred yen to go in, so we took a look. The lady who sold us the tickets said: 'Do you want guidance? " I thought she meant a leaflet so I said OK, but she left her post and started showing us around and explaining the history of all the pottery. I most certainly did not want this. However, having said that, she was so eager to explain everything and so expressive, where she did not know the word she mimed, I ended up enjoying her company just because she had such a lovely personality.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Exhibit.

Ceramics Museum.

Ceramics Museum.


Pottery Museum.

After that we wandered back to the main street where we saw a building that looked like the sort of Turkish yali that you would find on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. We later found out that it was a guest house for foreigners who had come to buy Arita's pottery. We wandered into another pottery shop, only to find it was one of the oldest and most famous in Arita. The manager there told us a bit about its history then recommended that we visit Arita's most famous temple. This is the Tozan Shrine. To get to it you have to cross the railway line and climb up lots of steps. Many of the things in the shrine that would be traditionally made of stone in other shrines are made of porcelain here. There are also good views over the town of Arita from here.

Historic Guest House for Foreigners.

Historic Guest House for Foreigners.

Famous Pottery Shop

Famous Pottery Shop

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

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Tozan Shrine.

After the Tozan Shrine we took a walk along the main street enjoying passing pottery shops, wind socks and attractive houses.

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Wandering around town.

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Wandering around town.

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Wandering around town.

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Wandering around town.

We then headed back to the bridge with the signposts we had arrived at and headed the other way. This led us to a shrine and an enormous ginko tree. The shrine was very pretty with lots of blossom and several ceramic owls. I'm not sure what the significance of owls to Arita is but there were certainly lots of them around.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

Ginko Tree.

Ginko Tree.

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The Shrine.

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Ginko Tree.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

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The Shrine.

There were still things to see, but it was time to go, so we headed back to Fukuoka. Local train first and we had sussed the system, then fast train to Hakata. We took a walk around the outside of Hakata station and posed with some statues and a special Cupid postbox where you send letters to your loved ones.

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Local Train.

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Hakata Station.

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Hakata Station.

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Hakata Station.

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Hakata Station.

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Hakata Station.

At home we stopped off at a convenience store to buy dinner. My husband whose eyesight is failing badly managed to pull open a glass fridge door and batter me in the face with it so hard I initially thought my cheek bone was broken. I walked home in agony with a very contrite husband and when the pain was almost bearable took myself off for an onsen on the top floor of the hotel. I had the whole place to myself. The hot water was soothing and I felt great, then I tried to leave. I walked at full force into the glass partition that separated the onsen and the changing room. The bang was immense and I'm amazed the glass did not break. I'm also amazed I did not lose consciousness. I limped home with a huge bump on my head and one done in knee!!! Our first full day was over.

Posted by irenevt 05:56 Archived in Japan

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Comments

Oh dear, what a shame about your two bad bumps :( But apart from that it sounds like an excellent day. I love the blue pottery owls in particular!

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah,there were pottery owls everywhere but I can't find anything to explain the connection between Arita and owls.

by irenevt

Loved the Cupid postbox. What fun.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, yes it was unusual. Never seen a postbox like it before.

by irenevt

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