Saga: South Korean Woman Fascinated by Arita-yaki Ware Opens Gallery

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Lee Hyojin shows Arita-yaki ware for display and sale at Gallery Maison de Arita in Arita, Saga Prefecture.

ARITA, Saga — Fascinated by Arita-yaki ware, a South Korean woman has opened a gallery with a coffee shop in Arita, Saga Prefecture.

Lee Hyojin grew up in Seoul and came to Japan after marrying a man who runs a trading company. When she was traveling in Kyushu about 10 years ago, she became acquainted with Arita ware, one of Japan’s leading forms of pottery.

Having learned about the history of Arita ware, which was started by a potter brought from the Korean Peninsula to Japan in the 17th century, Lee began to dream of becoming an Arita ware artist.

She had experience working as a designer for a South Korean electronics manufacturer. After attending a Japanese language school, she enrolled in Saga University. For five years, she worked on modeling and molding in the Arita ceramics department of the Regional Design Course, including graduate school at the university.

In January, she opened the Gallery Maison de Arita on a street lined with pottery stores and kilns.

The first floor of the three-story reinforced concrete building houses contemporary works and pieces from famous potteries. There is also a coffee shop on the same floor. The second floor is used to display the works of new artists and for workshops.

“I want to let as many people as possible know about Arita ware, which has a 400-year history but continues to change with the times,” Lee said. She is now considering helping small potteries export their products.