Japan Travel

Ceramics treasure hunt

Back in April, an author I follow on Facebook shared a link about a pottery factory opening up its warehouse for visitors to come visit and buy what they can carry away. “How neat,” I thought. And then I realized the factory is in Arita, which I’ve written about before on here. At that point my thoughts turned to “I could go do that!”

I told a few friends and coworkers about it, and they were similarly enthused. One went down in May with her mum, but was keen to go again. So a third friend managed to secure a reservation for this past Saturday morning for us.

20160618_102252Because I needed to be back for a soccer game in the evening, there was no chance to explore Arita, just enough time to rummage for pottery and zip back to Fukuoka. The train ride down is about 80 minutes, and the factory, Koraku Kiln, is about five minutes away by taxi. We were a little early, but the gentleman running the treasure hunts (Sebastiao from Brazil) explained how things worked (one basket, packed neatly so the top was flat, not mounded), handed us gloves and let us alone to do our thing.

Despite what the article says, the warehouse isn’t that immense, but it is one long room with the cheaper fare, and a shorter but wider room with the more interesting pieces. Other than two Tawainese women also shopping, we had the place to ourselves. I wandered for a few minutes, picked up two leaf-shaped bowls I knew I wanted and then headed back to get a shopping basket.

And let me tell you, it was a blast. We each found a bunch of pieces, for ourselves, for friends and family. Our tastes were dissimilar enough that we weren’t after the same pieces or patterns. We spent most of our time in the more expensive room, though I did find a few things in the cheaper room. I picked up mostly flat things (plates, platters), so I was able to pack quite a bit into my shopping basket. And still there were things I wanted more of (like additional bowls in a lovely confetti pattern I found late in the game).


The time limit is supposed to be 90 minutes, but it was more like two hours when we hauled our baskets to the front, where they were emptied, each piece wrapped in newspaper and placed in a box for each of us. While Sebastiao did the packing, we chatted with him and an Englishman who was in residence for the month, making cups in the actual factory. When all was packed and paid for, a taxi was called for us and back we went to the train station, laden with goodies.

I’ve no idea of the overall weight of my purchase, but probably around 10 kg, and 30+ pieces. Given that the prices on each piece ranged from 400-1500 yen or so, the 10,000 yen price tag was a steal. I’m still washing pieces, and I need to figure out how best to store what I’m keeping, but I’m pleased as punch with my haul, and plan to start working the plates and bowls into my meals.

I hope we can go back in fall, when more items have been unearthed by other buyers moving stuff around. Hopefully then we can fit in a visit to the ceramics museum and theme park that are also in town.

Koraku Kiln:


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