Days 1 to 3
Experience the History of Ceramics in Tokyo
First, in Tokyo you will learn about the history of ceramics.
At the Nezu Museum you can see ceramics from China and Korea, as well as ancient ceramics that were made in Japan.
In the elegant townscape of the Kagurazaka neighborhood, you will walk along the paths and stop by stores that specialize in various types of ceramic vessels. There's no better place to find souvenirs and presents!
This is also a chance to acquire Japanese-style tableware that is emblematic of Japan and made by craftsmen from all over Japan, such as Kiyomizu-ware, Arita-ware, and Edo Kiriko glassware.
The Nezu Museum is a museum created to preserve and display a collection of Japanese and Oriental antiques. Currently, it houses approximately 7,600 works of art, including seven national treasures (as of December 31, 2021). Together with paintings and sculptures, the numerous exhibits also include ceramics from China and Korea since the 4th century and ceramics that were made in Japan around the 16th to 18th centuries, and there is also an extensive collection of tea utensils. The Nezu Museum's current building was designed by the renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The museum's authentic Japanese garden takes advantages of the natural slopes on the grounds and is also a highlight.
10 minutes by train(non-JR lines)
Maruokatoen, founded in 1892 in Kagurazaka, has a wide variety of Japanese tableware that is representative of Japan. The extensive lineup of daily tableware and commercial tableware is centered around hand-made items produced by skilled craftspeople, such as Kiyomizu-ware, Arita-ware, Hagi-ware, Bizen-ware, and Edo Kiriko cut glassware. By holding the pieces in your hands, you can feel the beauty of these hand-made items as well as the weight and thickness of each one. Affordable and reasonable pieces are also available, which makes them the perfect souvenir.
40 minutes by train(non-JR lines)
20 minutes by bus
35 minutes by train(non-JR lines)
25 minutes by bus
Days 3 to 6
Experience the Culture of Ceramics in Nagasaki and Saga
Now that you have gained some knowledge about ceramics while in Tokyo, you will hop over to Nagasaki and Saga.
In Hasami Town in Nagasaki Prefecture, make sure to visit the specialty stores for Hasami-ware, which has an approximately 400-year history and is still evolving. One such specialty store is the Maruhiro Flagship Store, where you can find fashionable and durable Hasami-ware.
In the past, Kyushu ceramics were exported to Europe from the Dutch Trading Post in Nagasaki. Visit the Matsura Historical Museum, which is closely related the Hirado Dutch Trading Post, to explore this fascinating history.
Once you have become interested in the history of the ceramics that connect Japan with foreign countries, you will go to Arita Town in Saga and view an exhibition of "Koimari-ware (Arita-ware)" that dazzled European aristocrats. Japan's first ceramics were born in Arita, so this stop allows you to experience both the past and present of ceramics in Japan.
Maruhiro Flagship Store
Hasami-ware is a traditional craft that was born approximately 400 years ago as containers and tableware for common people. The Maruhiro Flagship Store is a directly managed store of a ceramics maker that works with such Hasami-ware, and you can buy Hasami-ware tableware and miscellaneous interior goods. The store's spacious and stylish interior offers a wide range of products with designs and shapes that are easy to use on a daily basis, such as simple and colorful mugs and plates with unique designs. The store is located in the privately owned "HIROPPA" park that opened in October 2021, and the playground equipment in the park, designed by artists with a connection to Maruhiro, is also a must-see.
120 minutes by bus
Matsura Historical Museum
Arita-ware and Hasami-ware were exported overseas through the Dutch Trading Post, and Hirado was the base for that trade. The Matsura Historical Museum in Hirado exhibits materials, historical documents, and fine art and crafts related to that foreign trade so that visitors can see and know the trade culture of the era. The Matsura Historical Museum also stores valuable historical materials that cover a variety of fields, such as the items that were imported from the Netherlands and picture scrolls with detailed dimensions of twelve foreign ships that arrived in Japan. These materials have been attracting attention not only from domestic researchers, but also from overseas researchers.
50 minutes by bus
70 minutes by train(non-JR lines)
The Kyushu Ceramic Museum
The Kyushu Ceramic Museum exhibits and displays materials related to ceramics from all over Kyushu, including Hizen-ware. At the permanent exhibit you can see a collection of Koimari-ware that was exported overseas during Japan's Edo period and then returned to Japan, as well as old ceramics from all over Kyushu. Also worth seeing are an Arita-ware music box clock that rings every 30 minutes, plays music, and has figurines that come out and move with the music, as well as ceramic bells that were gifted by Arita Town's sister city, Meissen, Germany. After immersing yourself in the culture of ceramics, take a break at the Café Terrace Aya, which is attached the museum. Here you can enjoy coffee and tea in real Imari-ware from Japan's Edo period.
*The entire museum will be closed from January 31, 2022 until April 8, 2022 due to the permanent exhibit being renewed. The museum will reopen on April 9, 2022. Mail-order sales from the catalog, etc. continue to be available even while the museum is closed.
80 minutes by train (JR)
15 minutes by car
Days 7 to 10
Encountering Traditional Kyushu Crafts and Refreshing Yourself in Hot Springs
In addition to ceramics, there are many attractive traditional crafts in Kyushu. After you have fully experienced and enjoyed the culture of ceramics, you will visit Yame City in Fukuoka Prefecture.
At the Yame Traditional Crafts Museum you will try your hand at some of these other traditional crafts.
Finally, you will make your way to Hita Onsen in Oita prefecture to refresh and wash away any weariness from your travels. Soak in the hot spring to slowly relax, or take a leisurely stroll through Mamedamachi, where the old townscape still remains.
Yame Traditional Crafts Museum
The Yame Traditional Crafts Museum displays a variety of traditional folk crafts that are representative of Yame City, such as Buddhist altars, lanterns, Kurume-gasuri fabric (a cotton fabric that is primarily indigo-dyed), handmade Japanese washi
paper, arrows, Japanese toy tops, and bamboo crafts. You can enjoy shopping at the attached "Tokimeki Yame Tourist Information & Product Promotion Center" and can get crafts and special products such as Yame tea, local sake
, and processed agricultural products.
35 minutes by bus
55 minutes by train(JR)
20 minutes by foot
Strolling through Hita and Mamedamachi
Mamedamachi in Hita City, where Hita Onsen is located, is a town you will want to make a stop in when you come to Oita. It once prospered as a castle town under the direct control of the Edo shogunate
, and now the old buildings and townscape still remain. There are quite a few retro and cute shops, such as the "Nippon Gwan" pharmacy and gallery, that has been around since the Edo period, and kominka
(renovated old house) cafes. Every November two major events are held: the Hita Tenryo Festival, which recreates the glory of the Edo period, and the Sennen Akari, which beautifully illuminates the town with 30,000 bamboo lanterns. If traveling during these times, then make sure to tour the festivals and take in the atmosphere.
This journey introduced a trip to encounter the culture of ceramics in Tokyo and in Kyushu, visiting a variety of ceramics galleries, museums, and ceramics stores.
Example transportation have been provided for reference, but walking around and exploring in the areas near the spots introduced in this journey is also recommended.
*The information provided here is as of March 2022.
*Transportation information does not include the number of transfers or transfer time.
*Admission fees may be charged depending on the spot/facility. For the latest information on business hours, days when spots/facilities are regularly closed, and prices, etc., please check the official website for each spot/facility or check directly with the spot/facility.