ARITA, Japan — Kouraku Kiln is a storied ceramic factory that was initially founded in 1865 in Arita in Saga Prefecture, Japan. After producing ceramics for a century and a half, Kouraku has amassed an army of unsold pieces. Picture the last shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark and fill all of those crates with dishware and you’ll start to understand the scope. The factory is so large that Spoon & Tamago reports that employees get around on bicycles.
So offloading all of the seconds starts to look like a fool’s errand. Better to let ceramic fans do that themselves, right? For the price of 5,000 or 10,000 yen (about $50 or $90) one can book a visit to the factory and go “treasure hunting” for 90 minutes. Guests can leave with whatever they can carry. Higher-paying guests get a small basket, gloves, a flashlight, and access to an exclusive section of decoratively painted ceramics. The groups are kept to no more than ten people per day, about the size of a tour group at the Wonka factory.
It seems like a paced, reasonable way to offload a warehouse of seconds. Perhaps the limited size of the groups plays in the favor of people seeking something incredible. One can be reasonably sure the stock hasn’t been picked over. If only some of our favorite auction houses had similar programs!
What do you think of this adventure in contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.