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Arita (有田) is a small town in western Saga Prefecture on Kyushu that is famous throughout Japan for its pottery, known as Arita-yaki. All of the town's attractions are somehow related to pottery, including kilns, multiple museums, archaeological sites, shops and even the local shrine.
The history of Arita-yaki dates back about 400 years, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi attempted to invade Korea and brought back several highly skilled Korean craftsmen to Japan. In 1616, one of these craftsmen discovered kaolin - the mineral required to make porcelain - at the site which later became the Izumiyama Quarry. Consequently, Arita became the first place in Japan to produce porcelain.
Several large scale kilns were subsequently built around Arita, resulting in great prosperity for the town. Arita's pottery was not only made for the domestic market, but also became popular in China and Europe. Arita-yaki pottery that traveled out of the nearby Imari Port would also be labeled as Imari-yaki.
Most of Arita's attractions and shops are found in the old town around Kami-Arita Station, except for the Kyushu Ceramic Museum - the best museum on local Arita pottery - which is near Arita Station. Additionally, there is a porcelain related theme park located on the outskirts of town.
Located outside of the town center, the Arita Porcelain Park is a somewhat bizarre porcelain related theme park with a large reconstruction of the Zwinger Palace of Dresden. Although the park has seen better days, some of its attractions are well done. Admission to the park grounds is free.
Most of Arita's attractions are within a kilometer of Kami-Arita Station (served by local trains only) and can be accessed on foot. However, one of the city's most interesting attractions, the Kyushu Ceramic Museum, is closer to Arita Station (served by local and limited express trains), a three minute, 170 yen ride to the west by hourly trains. Walking between the two stations takes about 40 minutes.
The Arita Porcelain Park is located on the outskirts of town, about four kilometers southeast of Arita Station, without access by public transportation. A taxi ride from Arita Station to the park takes about ten minutes and costs around 1500 yen.