Aichi is well known as a centre of Japanese industry, but what is less well known is that it is also the birthplace of one of the world’s leading ceramic dinnerware “china” brands, Noritake. In Japan the word Noritake evokes images of high quality and prestige, it is to Japan what Wedgwood is to England.
While the original Nagoya factory in no longer in full scale operation, there is in its place a wonderful garden, museum complex, craft center and restaurant. As it is a mere 15 minutes walk from Nagoya Station, it makes an excellent day out.
In 1904 Nippon Toki Kaisha, Ltd. (“the Company that makes Japan’s Finest China”) set up a factory in the Noritake area of Nagoya in which it planned to create first class ceramics for export to Europe and the US. Ten years later they created “Sedan”, their first Western style dinner set to compete with the established elite of the European porcelain companies.
In 2001 to celebrate the company’s upcoming centenary, Noritake Garden (Noritake no Mori) was built on the grounds of the original factory. It has since won various awards for design and beauty.
There are a whole range of activities for you and the family at the Noritake garden. You can visit the Meiji era red brick buildings of the historical zone. The factory building was in operation until 1975, but now you can wander round it and learn about the fascinating history of the Noritake tableware. Afterwards you can enjoy the delightful gardens themselves, or sit and relax next to the charming fountain.
Curious how bone china is made? Well visitors can witness first hand the craft that goes into some of the world’s most exquisite ceramics. Here you can watch some of the finest artists begin the process of mold production and glaze firing, through to demonstrations of freehand painting by master craftsmen. If you or your children are feeling particularly artsy, you can even paint and fire your own mug or plate. From there you can visit the Noritake museum showing products created between the Meiji and Showa areas, or head to the Noritake Garden gallery that exhibits various pottery, paintings and sculptures.
There are of course plenty of shopping opportunities at Noritake Garden where you can pick up all kinds of ceramic goods. Not just a clever name, the ‘Stage Noritake Prestige Shop’ has high quality prestigious ceramic goods designed as gifts for loved ones or to add to personal collections. The ‘my Dining Coordinate Shop’ showcases a variety of products for the home as well as professional tableware. Here you can see the entire Noritake dinner range as well as professional goods not ordinarily seen by the public. In the ‘Palette Lifestyle Shop’ you can find a selection of international, bright kitchenware, and in the ‘BOX Outlet Shop’ you can pick up great deals from the Noritake factory-direct outlet store.
If seeing all that dinnerware has got you hungry, there are two dining options on offer at Noritake Garden. For light bites you can head to ‘The Square Café’ where you can get Noritake tea, coffee, deserts or even light meals like curry or pizza. There is outside seating which you can enjoy on sunny days. For those wanting something a little more substantial you can try the fine dining ‘Kiln’ restaurant, serving French and Italian inspired cuisine on Noritake tableware. You can go for lunch, afternoon tea, or an evening meal.
Where: 3-1-36 Noritake-shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya (near the Toyota Techno Museum)
When: Craft Centre: 10am-5pm Tues-Sun / Main Buildings 10am-6pm Tues-Sun
Restaurant: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM (Lunch), 5:30 PM – 10 PM(Dinner)
By Mark Guthrie
Image: flickr.com "Noritake Garden ノリタケの森" by Norio NAKAYAMA (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified