Visiting the exotic Nagasaki and ceramics

Arita/Imari Area

Exotic scenery of Nagasaki, the only town opened to the world during Sakoku, or the Isolation period (1641-1854), and the towns that form the birthplace of ceramics, Arita, Imari and Karatsu.

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Day 1 - Nagasaki

[Traveling]
Hakata Station -- <110 mins. by JR Limited Express> -- Nagasaki -- <4 mins. by Nagasaki Electric Tramway> -- Kokaido-Mae -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Kofuku-ji Temple] -- <15 mins. by walk> -- [Megane-bashi Bridge] -- [Sofuku-ji Temple] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Shokakuji-shita -- <7 mins. by Nagasaki Electric Tramway> -- Oura Tenshudo-shita -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Glover Garden] -- <15 mins. by Nagasaki Electric Tramway> -- Matsuyama-machi -- [Nagasaki Peace Park] -- <10 mins. by Nagasaki Electric Tramway> -- Chikko -- [Chinatown]

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Nagasaki

Nagasaki locates at the northwest-edge of Kyusyu, and is close to the Korean Peninsula, Continental China and South East Asia. During the Edo Period(1603-1868) when Japan closed itself off from the outside world, Nagasaki was the only place open to foreign countries. Consequently, you will notice the influence of foreign culture blending harmoniously with Japanese culture here and there.

Kofuku-ji Temple

Kofuku-ji Temple is the first temple of the Oubaku sect in Japan, founded by a Chinese priest in 1620. In Nagasaki at that time, Christians were severely persecuted, and the Chinese people built many “Chinese temples” to prove that they were actually Buddhists. The temple precincts where precious buildings still stand today are protected as a historical site.

Megane-bashi Bridge

The oldest of the beautiful arch-type stone bridges in Japan was constructed by the priests of this temple. The combination of the actual arches and their reflection in the water looks like a pair of glasses, so it is called Megane-bashi Bridge (Spectacles Bridge).

Sofuku-ji Temple

Sofuku-ji Temple, one of the Chinese temples situated within a 15-minute walk, houses 21 cultural assets including national treasures.

Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church

The Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church, designed by French priests in 1864, is the oldest existing Christian building in Japan built by Japanese. There was a time when Christianity was banned in Japan; however, the flame of the faith was never entirely extinguished.

Glover Garden

Nine Western-style buildings have been grouped together at the former enclave for foreign residents and were improved to form a park. When the long period of national isolation ended in 1859, Nagasaki was opened as a port for free trade along with Yokohama and Hakodate. Initially, however, foreigners were permitted to reside only in one tightly controlled area, which was this small enclave.

It is situated on a hilly site, providing a view over the Port of Nagasaki. It is also open at night, during the summer.

Nagasaki Peace Park

Nagasaki and Hiroshima are the only cities in the world to have suffered an atomic bomb attack. The Peace Park is situated on the hill above the north side of ground zero where the bomb was dropped. A memorial ceremony is held every year on August 9 in front of the Peace Statue, which is about 10 meters tall, and a message appealing for peace is sent out to the world.

Chinatown

Nagasaki Kunchi Festival

The huge 15-day “Nagasaki Lantern Festival” is held every February in celebration of the Chinese New Year, and about 15,000 colorful Chinese lanterns are displayed throughout the town. The annual “Nagasaki Kunchi Festival”, held from October 7 to 9, is a unique autumn festival that merges Japanese, Chinese and Dutch cultures, and is famous for its Chinese dragon dance.

Day 2 - Arita

[Traveling]
Nagasaki -- <110 mins. by JR Limited Express> -- Arita -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Kyushu Ceramic Museum] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Arita -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Arita -- <25 mins. by Matsuura Railway Nishi-Kyushu Line> -- Imari -- <15 mins. by taxi> -- [Okawachi-yama] -- [Imari Nabeshima-yaki Kaikan Hall] -- [Nabeshima-han Yo Koen Park] -- <15 mins. by taxi> -- Imari

Arita

Arita town in Saga Prefecture is the origin of Japanese porcelain with a history dating back 400 years. Characteristic features of Arita ware are the almost transparent white base and the exquisite, vividly drawn pictures. Arita ware is classified into three types: Ko-imari or early Imari ware, Kakiemon and Iro-nabeshima, according to the production period and style. This porcelain was shipped from Imari Port, so it was well known as “IMARI” overseas, and it was highly valued by royalty and aristocracy not only in Europe but also in Turkey and Islam in the 17th to 18th century.

Arita Ceramic Museum

Arita now has a sister-city affiliation with Meissen, Germany, which is also famous for its porcelain. If you would like to learn more about Arita ware, visit the “Kyushu Ceramic Museum” and “Arita Ceramic Museum”.

Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques

To better understand the production process, we recommend a visit to the ‘Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques’ situated next to the kiln. Imaemon is the name of the current generation, a living national treasure, who holds the stewardship of the Arita ware technique handed down over 350 years.

Arita Ceramic Market

The Arita Ceramic Market, which is held from late April to early May, is a famous event that is over a hundred years old. Sarayama Street, which is the main street, is lined with shops that offer all kinds of ceramics varying from those priced under a hundred yen to luxurious pieces that are worth millions of yen.

Okawachi-yama

Okawachi-yama is located about 15 minutes by car from the Imari station. It is a mountainous area richly endowed with nature, and is the site of many kilns, so the area is called “Hiyo-no-sato” or secret kiln village. Around the end of the 17th century, government officials grouped the kilns in this area and ordered the people to produce articles for presentation to the Shogun.

Nabeshima-han Yo Koen Park

Just walking through the village with its climbing kilns, is a moving experience. From the observatory of Nabeshima-han Yo Koen Park with its many pleasing ceramic objects, you can view the magnificent scenery.

Day 3 - Karatsu

[Traveling]
Imari -- <JR 60 mins.> -- Karatsu -- [Integrated Karatsu-yaki Exhibition/Sales Center] -- <20 mins. by bus> -- [Karatsu Castle] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Karatsu-jinja Shrine-Hikiyama Exhibition Hall] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Karatsu Station -- <JR Chikuhi Line 90 mins.> -- Hakata

Karatsu

Karatsu City in Saga Prefecture is rich with nature facing the Sea of Genkai, and it still retains some remnants of the days 400 years ago. The city is also known for its Karatsu ware pottery. Karatsu Bay has a beautiful sandy beach 5 km long and 1 km wide populated with clusters of black pine trees. Because the shape of the trees resembles the arch of a rainbow, the beach is called Niji-no-matsubara (rainbow pine-covered area).

Integrated Karatsu-yaki Exhibition/Sales Center

The second floor of “Karatsushi Furusatokaikan Arpino” in front of the station has various pieces of Karatsu-yaki pottery on display as well as panels and documents that let you see right away how they are made. Here, you can also enjoy painting them.

Karatsu Castle

Let’s visit the symbolic Karatsu Castle built in 1608 and believed to embody the beauty of a crane spreading its wings. The present castle was rebuilt in 1966, faithfully reproducing the original. Precious historical materials are displayed inside and the view from the observatory facing Karatsu Bay should not be missed.

The area around the castle has been made into a beautiful park, with 500 cherry trees blossoming there every spring.

Hikiyama Exhibition Hall (Karatsu Kunchi festival)