Together with the hidden village of Okawachiyama in the adjacent valley, the town of Arita (有田) in Saga Prefecture is considered the birthplace of Japanese porcelain ceramics. For four centuries its pottery, known as arita-yaki, has been famous and in high demand throughout Japan and abroad. The town’s attractions are all related to pottery, with museums, archaeological sites, firing kilns, and workshops with storefronts lining the narrow streets. Even the local shrine is associated with porcelain!
Sueyama Shrine (陶山神社) was founded in 1658 and is dedicated to one of the most influential of the Korean potters Yi-sam Pyeong who introduced porcelain making to the area. Revered by local ceramicists as a place to pray for the town and the prosperity of Arita porcelain, it is also known as Tōzan Jinja, or the Potter’s Shrine.
The shrine is unique for having a torii gate and komainu guardian dog statues made of porcelain, as well as many other pieces showcasing fine pottery work. In addition to offering fine views of Arita town, the small shrine has the wonderful ambiance of an outdoor art museum.