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[Official] Mail order and sales of Arita ware, Kisen kiln, and Japanese tableware Shobido main store online shop
[Official] Mail order and sales of Arita ware, Kisen kiln, and Japanese tableware Shobido main store online shop

History of Arita Pottery City

This year, the Arita Pottery Fair will be held in Arita Town for the first time in three years. In addition, the "Shobido Honten WEB Pottery Market" is being held for the third year.

At our Shobido main store, we welcome visitors to the real Arita Pottery Market.

We also created a leaflet to introduce the history of "Arita Pottery Market" to those who purchased products at "Shobido Honten WEB Pottery Market" in order to inform them about the history of "Arita Pottery Market" and to make them enjoy it even more. Did.

The name is "Fumufumu Arita Pottery City"

Ceramic sales events called ``Pottery Markets'' and ``Pottery Festivals'' are now held not only in Arita but also in ceramic production areas throughout Japan.
When I looked into it, I found out that the origin of this "pottery market" was actually Arita.

The leaflet contains information on the history of Arita Pottery City, which can be called the ``original pottery market,'' from its establishment to the present day, as well as explanations about the ``outlet products'' that are well-known at the pottery market.

In this blog, I would like to focus on the information that I researched while creating "Fumufumu Arita Pottery Fair," but could not include in the leaflet due to space constraints.

■Over 100 years of history “Arita Pottery City”
The 118th Arita Pottery Fair will be held this year in 2022.
The event is held once a year, and the 118th event means that it has a history of more than 100 years.
Since this year is the 118th, you might think that the first one was simply 118 years ago, but in fact, the Arita Pottery Fair was not held in the year of the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, during the Pacific War, and for a while after the war. As you know, the year before and last year were not held due to the influence of the new coronavirus.

The actual ``1st Arita Pottery Fair'' is said to have taken place 126 years ago in 1896 (Meiji 29).
Although it has been canceled several times over its long history, it has been 126 years since the first edition.
Arita Pottery Market probably has the longest history among the pottery sales events such as "Pottery Market" and "Pottery Festival" throughout Japan.

So, how did the Arita Pottery Fair begin?

■The path to the “1st Arita Pottery Fair”
Arita ware was born in 1616 (early Edo period), but from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period, Arita was in a chronic recession.
Around this time, domestic porcelain production was flourishing in the Mino area of ​​Gifu Prefecture and the Seto area of ​​Aichi Prefecture, and the dominance of the porcelain industry in Hizen, including Arita, in the domestic porcelain market was beginning to waver.

In addition, overseas trade of Arita ware, which was known as "IMARI" and was popular in Europe, lasted until the first half of the 18th century, after which it declined.
Then, in 1871 (Meiji 4), with the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures, the Sarayama Magistrate Office, which had a long history, was closed, and the domain's protection and support for the ceramic industry was lifted, ushering in an era of free competition. It was.

After entering the Meiji period, various attempts were made in Arita to overcome the recession that had continued since the end of the Edo period.
One example is the exhibition of Arita ware at World's Fairs such as the Philadelphia World's Fair and the Paris World's Fair.
After exhibiting at the Expo, Arita ware once again received high praise in Europe.
With the Japonism trend, Arita ware became the ace of the export industry.

However, after that, Arita once again fell into recession.
As social recessions such as Matsukata deflation and the Sino-Japanese War hit, pottery gradually became less popular.
When pottery stopped selling and sales declined, it became difficult to hire skilled craftsmen, and as a result, the quality of pottery declined, creating a vicious cycle in Arita's pottery industry.

At that time, the town's leaders, who felt a sense of crisis and felt that Arita ware would be ruined if things continued as they were, started calling out to each other. It was a competitive "competition show."

The first ceramics competition was held from March 1st to 5th, 1896 (Meiji 29) at the main hall of Keiun-ji Temple (Kohei, Arita Town).
It is said that 600 people attended the opening ceremony and a total of 784 items were exhibited.

Is that it?
Isn't 1896 (Meiji 29) the year of the first Arita Pottery Fair as originally written? Isn't it called "Pottery Fair" instead of "Ceramic Fair"?

It's a mystery, isn't it?
It was a mystery to me too.

So, when I investigated further, I found out that the current method of counting the number of "Arita Pottery Fairs" sponsored by the Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry is that the beginning of this "Ceramics Exhibition" is the "1st Arita Pottery Fair." I understand.
A similar statement can be found in the ``Chronology of Exhibitions and Arita Pottery Fair'' published by the Arita Town History and Folklore Museum.

So why is [ceremony fair] = [pottery fair]?

It was in 1915 (Taisho 4), 19 years after the first ceramics fair, that a ``market'' was started to sell pottery as a ``sponsor event'' for the annual ceramics fair.
The pottery fair was, after all, an event sponsored by the Ceramics Fair.

If the ceramic fair had not been held in the first place, the pottery market might not even exist.
Perhaps because of that meaning,

1896 (Meiji 29) 1st Ceramics Exhibition = 1st Arita Pottery Fair

I guess that's what it's called.

Now, let's take a moment to learn a little more about the pottery market that was first held in 1915 (Taisho 4).

■The path to "Kurazaarae" "Kurokamiyama" towers behind the town of Arita.
Since ancient times, Mt. Kurokami has been considered a sacred mountain for ascetic ascetics, and Arita has been a route for ascetic ascetics aiming for Mt. Kurokami.

At some point, the housewives of potteries and merchants began selling unsold and damaged items to apprentices passing through Arita.
It was probably a good opportunity for the housewives of potteries and merchants to sell products that they would not normally sell, and it was also an opportunity for apprentices to purchase pottery at a bargain price, probably at a lower price than the market price. Isn't it?

The idea of ​​``Pottery Market'' was inspired by this small business.
Mr. Rokusuke Fukagawa, the inventor of the event, persuaded the town mayor that if he held an event where all the ``unusual items'' that were lying dormant in the warehouses of potteries and merchants were put into colanders and sold all at once on storefronts, it would surely revitalize the town. .

There were many voices who were worried about its success, and reading materials from the time, there were objections such as ``It's a hassle to take the trouble out of the warehouse and wash it,'' and ``It's fine because there are companies that specialize in purchasing items with a reason.'' It seems that there were some opinions.

However, the event will be held in the end. The Arita Youth Association, of which Mr. Rokusuke Fukagawa himself is the chairman, organizes a sponsorship association and, in addition to holding a pottery market where pottery is sold, plays a role in making the event even more exciting by hosting performances, haiku parties, sports tournaments, etc. I did.

The result was a great success.
By the way, when this event first started, it was called ``Kurazaarae'' because ``we brought out all the items that were lying in the warehouse and sold them,'' but about 10 years after it was first held, the name changed to ``Pottery Market.'' It started appearing in newspapers.
Eventually, the name "Arita Pottery City" became established.

■The path to “Arita Pottery City of 1 million people”
The ``Ceramic Market'' (originally called ``Kurazarai''), which began in 1915 as a sponsored event for a ceramics fair, gained popularity and became an annual event. The scale has also grown.

In particular, in 2003 (Heisei 15), when Shozo Kamachi, the former chairman of our Shobido main store, was the chairman of the Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which hosts the Arita Pottery Fair, the event reached 1 million visitors for the first time.

Behind the success of reaching 1 million people was the steady work that had been going on for several years.

While our former president, Shozo Kamachi, was the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he visited travel agencies and charter bus companies west of Hiroshima with the vice president and the mayor, asking them to plan a tour to Arita Pottery City.

We also requested cooperation from JR Kyushu to encourage general visitors to use trains to avoid crowds.
As a result, the station building and restrooms at Arita Station are now cleaner, and JR Kyushu has printed 100,000 copies of its own map of the pottery market and distributed them free of charge to passengers on board the trains.

In addition, the Arita Police Department will provide full cooperation in providing security during the Arita Pottery Fair, and as the Arita Pottery Fair grows into a major event with a capacity of 1 million people, not only the pottery industry but also various fields will be involved. This is due to the efforts of people working together to develop Arita Pottery City.

■Path to “WEB Arita Pottery City”
In 2020 (Reiwa 2), due to the influence of the new coronavirus, the Arita Pottery Fair was canceled for the first time since the Pacific War (originally announced as postponed).
Needless to say, it was a shock to many people involved in Arita's ceramic industry. All of us at Shobido Main Store remember being stunned when we received the news of the cancellation.

However, the people of Arita have always turned a crisis into an opportunity.
At the press conference announcing the cancellation, the ``WEB Arita Pottery City'' concept was announced. It was the end of March.

Looking back on it now, it was a very sudden decision, but I was determined to do what I could, and the Shobido main store immediately decided to participate in the ``WEB Arita Pottery Fair''.

For those of us who are familiar with pottery markets in the past, we know that customers who are fans of pottery fairs want to take a look at the size, weight, texture, etc., especially if it is an "outlet item" for a reason. Even more so, I was skeptical that people would buy it from an online shop.

The Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which hosts the WEB Arita Pottery Market, as well as the potteries and trading companies that decided to participate in the WEB Arita Pottery City, began preparations at a rapid pace. Some of the companies had no prior experience selling online.
For such companies, the Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry provided support for opening online shops from scratch.

Additionally, in support of this initiative, Arita Town has decided to cover a portion of the shipping costs for items purchased at the WEB Arita Pottery Market.

By taking the generous measure of having Arita Town cover the shipping costs for purchases of 2,000 yen or more, Arita Town has cooperated with us in making it easier for more customers to shop at the WEB Arita Pottery Market.

After extensive preparations by the Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry and participating companies, the ``1st WEB Arita Pottery Market'' started on April 29, 2022.

That day was originally the first day of the Arita Pottery Market, and all of us employees were supposed to be serving customers at the store, but due to the cancellation of the Arita Pottery Market and to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the store was closed, and Shobido All employees at the head office were working from home.

I also celebrated the start of the WEB Pottery City at home.
As I was looking at my computer screen, wishing that at least some people would buy, I started receiving notifications one after another informing me of customer purchases. I think my computer broke down due to the large number of orders! ? I was so worried.

We received orders from all over Japan, from as far away as Hokkaido and Okinawa, and some customers even added words of encouragement in the notes section of their orders.
All of our employees were deeply moved and encouraged by the orders and words of support we received from all over the country.

After the unprecedented cancellation of the Arita Pottery Fair and the trial and error of holding the first WEB Arita Pottery Fair, we at Shobido Honten are currently holding the ``Shobido Honten WEB Pottery City'' for the third year.

Nowadays, we have many repeat customers who look forward to each visit, and we also have customers who order from not only Japan but also overseas.

The crisis of ``Arita Pottery Fair being canceled'' gave us the opportunity to meet new customers.

Just as the people of Arita 126 years ago, when they were in crisis due to the recession, found a way out through the fair, so too have we today found a new way out through the ``WEB Arita Pottery Market.'' .

■Finally, according to the curator of the History and Folklore Museum, who taught us about the history of "Fumufumu Arita Pottery Fair," ``Actually, Arita ware has gone through a cycle of good and bad.'' yes.

For me, the history of Arita ware was only associated with ``good times,'' such as the old Imari and Meiji World's Fairs, and even the bubble period, so I was very surprised.

Currently, sales of Arita ware have been steadily decreasing since the bubble period, and it cannot be said that these are ``good times.''

However, in Arita, producers and sellers work hard every day through trial and error to improve their products and distribution.

Arita ware is evolving day by day, with many products created that are based on tradition but also suit modern lifestyles and values.

I believe that the efforts and enthusiasm of those of us involved in modern Arita ware will surely lead to the next "good times."

References: “Women’s History of Arita Sarayama Stroll”, “My Life in Arita”, “Arita History and Folklore Museum Blog”

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