My Imari series #4.
This year, the annual Imari spring sale by the kilns (Haru no Yomoto Ichi: 春の窯元市) will be held from March 31 to April 3, 2013 at Okawachiyama (大川内山), Saga.
I wish I could go, but I never can take time off at that time of the year.
I just hope that the sale will not be affected by the yellow sand dust (黄砂) blown from the Yellow River region in China. The yellow sand dust seems to be getting worse – probably due to the progressing desertification in China. We had it when I was a kid in Fukuoka but nobody paid attention to it. To make the matter worse, the sand dust now contains the fine particulate matter (PM2.5), caused by the air pollution due to the rapid (too rapid) development in China. Thanks, China The good thing is this is only seasonal.
If you are lucky enough to go to the spring Imari sale, be sure to stop over at Arita city (有田市) and visit the Arita Porcelain Museum (佐賀県立九州陶磁文化館)!
10 minutes’ walk from the JR Arita train station. If you don’t want to walk, take a taxi. There are always taxis waiting in line right outside the train station.
Stairs to the Heaven – for Imari lovers
On the second floor of the museum, there is a cafeteria which serves tea, coffee, sweets, and light meals in the very old Imari ware.
I almost missed the sign on the left that says “you can have coffee in Ko-Imari (古伊万里: old Imari ware made from the 17th century to early 19th century)”. They need a bigger sign.
Not many people know this place yet. It’s a hidden gem
One of the menus they gave me -
Cake sets served in the old Imari ware
Choices: Green Tea Chiffon Cake, Fruit Role Cake, Gateau Au Chocolat, Layer Cheese Cake 750 yen with coffee
Japanese women are very fond of cake sets like these. I am one of them.
They also gave me the sheet that explains about the old Imari they use.
The plates above were made sometime between 1680 – 1700s.
The ones below were made sometime between 1770 – 1800s.
Depending on what you order, you will be served with Imari with different designs.
They were donated by Ms. Yuko Shibata.
How generous of her to do that!
It says “be sure to hold them with both of your hands”. What if you drop one on the floor by mistake and break it?
I am totally amazed they serve general public with such old and valuable stuff.
They have a lot of trust in the general public – but I think I can safely say that people who come to this museum must be Imari fans who are respectful of any Ko-imari ware, so they are not really serving them to the ‘general public’.
But still… I can’t imagine anybody could do this in the U.S.
I had a slice of fruit roll cake with a cup of coffee. mmmmm
It was like my dream came true. For an Imari fan like me, what could be better than this (^o^)
I look outside the windows.
I see the lush green of southern Japan. I love it. I always took it for granted until I moved somewhere much colder. It actually resembles the climate of states like Tennessee, Georgia, I think (I have been to both Tennessee and Georgia) – am I right?
Don’t forget to visit the exhibition rooms.
If I remember correctly, this is the only sign in English, Korean, and Chinese.
I spent almost 4 hours in there. Even if you are not a big Imari fan like me, you want to spend at least half an hour in there.
They have both the Japanese-style Imari and the European export Imari.
They have wares specially made for the Dutch East India Company. Some of them have the names of the then-oweners imprinted on them.
And there is a Kakiemon (柿右衛門) Imari, too, of course.
The decendent of Kakiemon (Kakieyom XIV) lives near this museum. He is a living national treasure (ningen kokuho: 人間国宝) in Japan.
Did you know Japan made huge Imari like this in the late 19th century? They made them only for the export. (Japanese houses would be too small for them)
Japan entered big Imari ware like this in the International Expositions (万国博覧会) held in Europe in the 19th century and received praise from the crowd. I did not even know that they had International Expositions in the 19th century.
There is a big clock in the lobby made of Imari porcelain. It plays (kind of sleepy) music every half an hour.
This is an excellent museum, but here, too, they are half baked in providing English signs and explanations.
Some of them have full English translation, but many have only the title translated into English.
My guess is they just don’t have enough resources. It costs money to hire good translators.
The website of the Kyushu Ceramic Museum (九州陶磁文化館): http://www.pref.saga.lg.jp/web/at-contents/kanko_bunka/k_shisetsu/kyuto.html
Take JR Sasebo Line (佐世保線). Get off at Arita (有田). 10 minutes’ walk from the JR Arita station. Imari City is close from Arita City - 30 minutes’ ride of Matsuura Railway (松浦鉄道).
- Imari Porcelain Festivals @Okawachiyama
- 2013 Spring Imari Sale by the Kilns at Okawachiyama (2013年 大川内山 春の窯元市)
- Alert for PM2.5 from China (an article by Fukuoka-now.com)