Last Saturday, I went back to Saga Prefecture to visit the small village of Okawachiyama (大川内山). Discovered on a French blog, I had a crush on this village and waited for the right time to go. So it is done and I was not disappointed by the promenade.
Okawachiyama, attached to the city of Imari, is a potters and ceramiq village in Saga Prefecture. If Imari is a normal town, Okawachiyama is a tiny village surrounded by mountains more or less steep and rice fields. Imagine: no combini and not a modern building, just traditional houses, pottery and ceramic workshops and narrow streets. It is plunged in the heart of the Japanese countryside, not least by taking the bus to the village: the driver willingly lays residents to get off on demand between stops.
Okawachiyama is the second last on the line and dice the descent you are greeted by a beautiful covered deck with two majestic ceramic vases that seem to keep the village. A few more steps and here is the village map also ceramic. Welcome !
I did come for a good reason :I wanted to go to the wind-bell festival (Fûrin, 風鈴), which runs until August 31st. For the occasion the locals hang hundreds of bells everywhere and you walk by listening to their jingle, each one has a different tone. It was very hot and the sound of fûrin, known as refreshing, was very nice and has indeed helped to make the heat less painful (although a bit of shade was still better). The bells are of course in ceramics and they each have different designs ... and a highly varied range of prices too. One can go from 1,000 yen to more than 30,000 yens. I bought one, of course, which sounds a bit deeper. Maybe that's why it was cheap but I love it.
Even outside of the festival period, the village is well worth the 2 hour trip from Fukuoka.
Not content to be preserved, it is also decorated with ceramics: wall decorations, floors covered with ceramic scraps, toilets signs and so on, there is ceramiq everywhere around the fire in the town. Anyway, it is impossible to forget its specialty thanks to large furnaces chimneys that rise above the rooftops.
When I went, a Saturday in mid-afternoon, there were not many people. People started arriving around 3pm but it was still very reasonable. Good because the village is a haven of peace and it is better to explore it quietly, taking your time. I loved getting lost in the narrow streets lined with planters and discover small hidden gardens. It is in these moments that I think I would like to live in the countryside. One day I would have a traditional house too, with nearby rice fields, a garden and a small piece of pond where carp would swim (precision from Daisuke "without staying too far from a supermarket, post office, bank, combini and a train station"."He is right).
Being a ceramiq village, retail outlets abound. From small shops to luxury boutiques, there is something for every taste and budget, although you should remember that the price range is quite high. Fortunately, there are a lot of sale items, often because of a small imperfection that traders expose out in large tanks. Okawachiyama looks like an open-air flea market!
The pieces are beautiful and if you take some time to search into the boxes, you will find things not too expensive. I fell for a cup but finally I didn't purchase it, preferring the wind-bell. Next time !
If you enter the stores, you will find pricey pieces but all are superb, including decorations, traditional or more modern designs. Furthermore people are always receiving a warm welcome by merchants who don't hesitate to have a brief chat. As the shops are often the first floor of the houses, it is like coming into a grandmother. giant dresser. In some shops, you even must remove your shoes to go see the ceramics on display on shelves, which are themselves stored on tatami mats. An irresistible family atmosphere.
In summary Okawachiyama is a village which is really worth the visit, not only for pottery and ceramics lovers, but also for those who are looking for an unspoilt, traditional and picturesque area. Any photo of the village will certainly become a pretty postcard. I plan to go again this fall, and you?
Kaze (風) : wind
Mura (村) : village
Inaka (田舎) : countryside
Yakimono (焼物) : ceramic ware
Sara (皿) : plate
Take the Imari-gô highway bus into the hakata Bus Terminal and get off at Imari station (Imari-eki mae 伊万里駅前). 1:50, 1770 yens. Then take the bus for Ôkawachiyama in front of the station and get off at the same named stop, 150 yens.
Fûrin matsuri :
Every year from June 20th toAugust 31st