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Factory Tours in Japan - 5 of the best
- Japan is well known for its platinum standard of product craftsmanship, but many consumers may not realize that this applies to more than just what we see on the shelves. Pull back the curtain and explore the workings of a Japanese factory for a whole new level of appreciation for your favourite things. Tours are cheap (or often free), and come with special perks like the chance to get hands-on and try making something for yourself or indulging in that holy grail of consumer incentives: free samples. Sapporo Beer Museum in Sapporo, Hokkaido Sapporo Beer Museum in Sapporo, Hokkaido Sapporo is Japan’s oldest beer brand, and its Sapporo, Hokkaido factory is one of Japan’s only beer-related museums. At over 100 years old, it also has the distinction of having been declared a Hokkaido Heritage site. Indulge in its sudsy history with a free self-guided tour featuring signage support in English, Korean, and simplified Chinese, or upgrade to a 500-yen guided premium tour, which ends with a flight of three beers–including a tour-exclusive reproduction of Sapporo’s original brew. How’s that for value? After a trip to the gift shop, end your day with a meal at the Sapporo Beer Garden, serving up–you guessed it–Sapporo’s full line of beer and Hokkaido mainstays like local lamb dish Genghis Khan. Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distilleries Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distilleries Japanese whisky magnate Nikka operates two distilleries, one of which is only several hours north of Tokyo in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Using a process brought to Japan from Scotland by chemist Masataka Taketsuru at the turn of the 20th century, Nikka produces everything from low-cost convenience store mixer whiskies to award-winning single malts. Try them all at Nikka’s Miyagikyo Distillery, a lush, red-brick estate that uses water from nearby Nikkawa River to craft the company’s exclusive blends. Though free tours are in Japanese, English commentary is available using a downloadable smartphone app. No matter which language you listen to, the 70-minute tour culminates in a tasting of two types of whiskies and a tangy swig of apple wine. Nikka Whisky Hokkaido Factory Yoichi Distillery Nikka Whisky Hokkaido Factory Yoichi Distillery Nikka’s castle-esque Hokkaido distillery offers the perfect winter warmers to get your blood flowing after a snowy day on the island’s western coast. Its locale and climate were chosen by Nikka’s founder for their similarity to Scotland–including fresh ocean air, whose presence gives the distillery’s whiskies a crisp salt-water finish. But it takes more than good ingredients to make good whiskey. Yoichi Distillery’s tour allows you to observe its unique coal-fired distillation process, a bit of a unicorn in modern-day production due to the difficulty it presents to its workers. Guided tours are in Japanese, but English-speaking visitors can get by with video displays spread throughout the factory explaining each step of manufacturing. As with any good tour, all of your studying is rewarded by a smoky sample at the finish line. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village Kirin Yokohama Beer Village This factory’s close proximity to Tokyo makes it ideal for a boozy day trip from the bustling metropolis. Kirin’s Yokohama factory, the largest and oldest brewery in Japan (and with a website claiming it cranks out more than 2000 cans per minute), offers an extensive multimedia tour teaching participants about the special brewing process that has made Kirin one of Japan’s top-four beer manufacturers. It’s a bit heavy on chemistry, but entertaining enough that it never feels like a lecture. In fact, depending on your interests, you can opt for one of three tour varietals: the standard factory tour, a “nature-themed tour” for the eco-minded, and a family alternative which probably swaps some of the molecular science for a couple of cute mascots (though just how “family-friendly” a beer-based tour can be is debatable). Thankfully, all roads lead to a free tasting, and–if you’re feeling peckish–a meal at in-house restaurant Spring Valley. Tours fill up fast, so best to reserve your spots in advance. Pottery Kiln Tour at Kouraku in Arita Pottery Kiln Tour at Kouraku in Arita Though its population certainly drinks its fair share, Japan produces much more than alcohol. For a little something different, head to Arita in Saga Prefecture to see what a century and a half of craftsmanship looks like via Kouraku’s Pottery Kiln Tour. It’s brief (an average tour takes only 30 minutes), but the best part comes afterwards: an all-you-can-take 90-minute pottery hunt. Kouraku lets you go full-Indiana Jones, digging through piles of pottery with gloves and a flashlight in a search for buried treasure. If it fits in your basket, it’s yours! Azamiya Minsah Craft Center Azamiya Minsah Craft Center If you find yourself in Okinawa, head to Ishigaki Island (a sorely-overlooked vacation destination) to check out Azamiya Minsah Craft Center. Visitors can watch the dyeing and weaving of traditional Minsah textiles, whose pattern of alternating rectangles symbolizes eternal love and is said to have supernatural qualities. Depending on availability, you might also opt to pull up a chair and weave your own masterpiece via paid workshops lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. Though these are offered only in Japanese, wily participants could probably follow along with a careful eye and a lot of patience. Knowing the origin story of what you buy imbues it with a whole new sense of meaning. The next time you’re looking to pick up your favourite made-in-Japan goods, why not skip the shops and head straight to the source? ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
What to Do in Arita
- What to do in AritaA visit to Arita, the birthplace of Japanese pottery is going to be a stay centred around the considered art of japanese ceramics. The area is filled with history, the pottery making process, important landmarks, studios and of course merchants willing to provide you with a few local gems to take home with you. While in Arita you should advantage of the town’s location mountainous surroundings to get in touch with nature and fully experience what the area has to offer. What to do in Arita Visit the Kyushu Ceramic Museum One way to get acquainted with Arita Yaki (Arita’s ceramic ware) and the ceramic tradition of Kyushu is to visit the Kyushu Ceramic Museum. Through several exhibition rooms, visitors get a clear understanding of the industry’s history, beginning from the time when the first clay quarry was discovered up to today. They also have the chance to admire some of the most beautiful pieces collected throughout centuries. A highlight here is a large ceramic clock, made by 13 local artists with intricate ceramic components; the clock opens up every 30 minutes to display an amazing mechanism and stunning design. Kyushu Ceramic Museum_Automaton clock Get a close look at Arita Yaki traditional production process. At the museum you learn the history of Arita Yaki and have the opportunity to inspect historical samples of it. You’re also given the opportunity to meet with the locals who produce today’s famous ceramics and get a closer look at the traditional ceramic process. Entering this 260 year old Gen-emon kiln is definitely a trip back in time. The studio area and work stations are preserved the wooden style of old days, while the kiln oven is still fired up with red pine wood found in the region. The knowledgeable staff are happy to show you around; the tour is free, detailed, and quite interesting but do note that it is only available in Japanese. Gen-emon Kiln Pay a visit to the porcelain-embellished Sueyama Shrine These spiritual grounds of Sueyama Shrine, as it is commonly known are adorned with countless stunning porcelain pieces, the most impressive being the torii gate at the top of the steps. This is said to be the only porcelain torii gate in Japan, and is reason enough to visit this place. Sueyama Shrine is also where local ceramicists come to worship the former lord Nabeshima Naoshige and the father of Arita porcelain, Ri Sanpei in whose name, an obelisk was erected at the top of the mountain. Sueyama Shrine Enjoy the surrounding nature at Arita Dam As beautiful as Arita ware is, if you’re on a budget, exploring the natural beauty of the area might be a more gentle on your wallet. One stunning location to visit it the natually breathtaking, pristine scenes of Arita Dam. From Arita Station a 10-min drive will take you to the dam’s entrance. Or better yet, rent a bicycle at the tourist information and bike your way around the blue waters, stopping along the way soak up the scenic landscape. Arita Dam Buy Arita Ware You should not leave Arita empty handed. A trip to the birthplace of Japanese pottery cannot be complete without taking home at least one of the coveted ceramics found in the area. To stock up on unique pieces you can either visit the ceramic shopping mall north of Arita Station or add some charm to your shopping spree along the historic Uchiyama District. Both are good options, but in Uchiyama the opportunity to wander through traditional architecture is an added bonus. Keep you eyes open for the tables outside the stores where from discounted merchandise is usually kept. Buy Arita Ware ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
Where to Go in Saga Prefecture
- A trip to Saga is as much about discovering the incredible skill of the region’s potters as appreciating the abundance of natural beauty the prefecture has to offer. Explore the endless coastline, craft-filled towns and some of Japan’s most fascinating history by visiting these five spots. Arita In the very west of Saga Prefecture lies Arita, an old town whose pottery is ubiquitous throughout its quaint streets. As the first producer of porcelain in Japan following the discovery of kaolin clay in the region in the 17th century, this small town is now world-renowned for its Arita ware, a style of porcelain that is finished off with intricate, colorful designs. With its heart in the old town, Arita is best admired by wandering through the aesthetically designed Tonbai Wall alleys and the local Sueyama Shrine. The town is also home to the Kyushu Ceramic Museum and the fascinating ceramic theme park, Porcelain Park. Local potters also host pottery workshops and the annual Arita Ceramic Fair takes place every year during Golden Week, which runs from the end of April to the beginning of May. Arita_Tonbai Wall alleys Yoshinogari Historical Park, Yoshinogari Ruins The Yoshinogari Historical Park is a site of ancient ruins dating back to the Yayoi period. While the dry moat-encircled settlement was only discovered in the 1980s, the site quickly proved to be a monumental discovery. The park houses a number of restored buildings based on remains found around the area, including dwelling sites, tombs, watch towers and artifacts that reveal how advanced this significant ancient civilization was. Just 40 minutes from Saga City, Yoshinogari Historical Park gives guests the chance to visit the reconstructed site and step inside to see reenactments of scenes from this fascinating era. Yoshinogari Historical Park Karatsu While there are a number of coastal towns in Saga Prefecture, the one place not to miss is Karatsu. Famed for its less precise style of pottery than the delicate pieces of Arita and Imari, Karatsu also offers a number of sights and activities. One of its main points of attraction is Karatsu Castle which towers over the sea atop its own mini island offering beautiful views over Saga’s northern coastline. Head north of the castle to the harbour for the Yobuko Morning Market to discover why the gastronomy of the city revolves around seafood. POTTERY Imari In spite of the size of this small, rural town, Imari is a name that has made it big in the west thanks to the trading of Imari porcelain which began over 300 years ago. The fine pieces of porcelain, originally created in Arita, were exported across the seas to Europe via Imari Port, lending it the name Imari porcelain. The nearby pretty village of Okawachiyama also holds a number of stories of the hidden trading of pottery in this picturesque setting. Today the town is still popular due to it’s pottery shops as well as for its delectable Imari wagyu steak, a high quality marbled beef reared in the surrounding hills. Imari Genkai On the Higashi Matsuura peninsula to the west of Karatsu, the luscious town of Genkai overlooks the beautiful, warm Genkai Sea from its winding coastal roads. The town has earned itself national park status thanks to its bountiful nature, as well as a reputation for its seafood, with the plenitude of fish caught from the surrounding waters; notably red sea bream, yellowtail, squid and blowfish. Back up the hills off the coast lie the Hamanoura Rice Terraces, a staircase of around 300 steps for growing rice. Filled with water from mid-April until May, the submerged terraces are an incredible sight if caught at sunset. Genkai Rice terrace ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
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... Imari-Arita :เครื่องปั้นดินเผา/เซรามิก จากแหล่งดินคุณภาพผ่านขั้นตอนจากภูมิปัญญาท้องถิ่น สู่ชิ้นงาน ศิลปะชั้นสูง, เครื่องใช้และวัสดุตกแต่งอาคารบ้านเรือน สถานที่ท่องเที่ยว...
Keiunji is a temple in Arita. It is located on the Main Street, and so it is easy to find. The statues of Niou, which stand both side of the main gate, are impressive. The garden with which sands is...
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