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Saga: South Korean woman fascinated by Arita-yaki Ware opens gallery

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

ARITA, Saga — Fascinated by Arita yaki goods, a South Korean woman has opened a gallery and 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. While traveling through Kyushu about a decade ago, she was introduced to Arita ware, one of the most important forms of pottery in Japan.

After learning 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 artist of Arita ware.

She had experience as a designer for a South Korean electronics manufacturer. After attending a Japanese language school, she enrolled at Saga University. For five years she worked on modeling and casting in Arita’s 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 full of pottery shops and kilns.

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

“I want to introduce as many people as possible to Arita goods, which have a 400-year history but continue to change with time,” Lee said. She is now considering helping small potteries export their products.

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