Imari (É¢) is a small seaside city in western Saga Prefecture on Kyushu. In past centuries, Imari's port served as the gateway for shipping out ceramic wares from the main production centers of Arita, Okawachiyama and Karatsu. During the Edo Period, pottery from the region was also exported overseas via Dejima in Nagasaki and became known as "Imari-yaki". These antiques are now referred to as Old Imari (Koimari) to differentiate them from modern Imari-yaki.
During the heydays of porcelain production, Imari was a thriving town filled with artisans of various disciplines, and merchant houses lined the banks of the Imari River which runs through the town center. A handful of these merchant houses were preserved or restored and are open to visitors today. There are also various shops selling ceramics, while the city center's main roads and bridges are decorated by porcelain statues.
Imari Nabeshima Gallery
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Closed: Mondays (following day if Mon is a national holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 3 Admission: 300 yen
The Imari Nabeshima Gallery is located on the second floor of the Matsuura Railway Imari Station building. The small gallery displays historic pieces of Koimari and Nabeshima ceramics in rotating exhibitions. An English pamphlet is available.
Ceramic Merchant's Residence Museum
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Closed: Mondays (following day if Mon is a national holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 3 Admission: Free
Located close to the Imari River, this former merchant residence is one of the few remaining buildings from the Edo Period. It is now housing a gallery on the first floor with a small selection of pottery pieces, while the second floor gives an idea of the living quarters.
Silk Road of the Sea (Umi no Silk Road) Gallery and Workshop
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Closed: Mondays (following day if Mon is a holiday), New Year holidays Admission: Free
The Silk Road of the Sea Gallery and Workshop stands right beside the Ceramics Merchant's Residence. Also a former merchant residence, it now has a shop selling local pottery on the first floor and a small gallery on the second floor.
A clock made of Koimari porcelain stands at the end of the main street before the bridge. It plays music and re-enacts scenes from the city's past every hour between 9:00 and 18:00.
Most of the attractions in central Imari are located within less than ten minutes on foot from Imari Station.