City located in western Saga prefecture in Kyushu. There are today more than 150 kilns active in the Arita region, many have been in operation for generations. Porcelain clay was first discovered in this area by the Korean potter Ri Sanpei in 1616 after which a stoneware and porcelain production started under the control by the feudal lord of Nabeshima. The potters Sakaida Kakiemon and Imaizumi Imaemon, contributed greatly to the improvement of Japanese enameled decoration (aka-e) which Arita is well-known for. The earliest Arita porcelains (c.1620-40) imitated contemporary Chinese wares of the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as well as Korean stonewares.
Colorful over-glazed porcelain wares made in Arita (Arita-yaki) were exported from the Imari port from the 1640's and onward. Arita wares which were exported from the Imari port in the Edo period are called "Ko Imari" meaning Old Imari.
In the second half of the 17th century, Arita became increasingly important, producing blue and white, Imari (see Imari porcelain), and Kakiemon (see Kakiemon, Sakaida) porcelain for export to Europe. These were transported to the port of Imari, shipped to the Dutch trading center at Nagasaki and thence to Europe. Wares included garnitures of large vases, covered urns and dishes, bowls, plates, ewers, figures, and animals (see garniture).
The trade reached its zenith c.1700, but with increasing competition from the Chinese kilns at Jingdezhen and changing tastes in Europe, Japan's export trade declined and by c.1740 had ceased altogether. Other important wares made in the Arita region include the fine porcelains of Hirado (see Hirado) and Nabeshima.