Laura tucking into some incredibly pretty Japanese treats © Laura Crawford
Laura Crawford, Destination Editor for Japan, recently returned from a trip to Ky?sh?, Japan.
Tell us more? I spent five days travelling around northern Ky?sh?, meeting local craftspeople and traditional food producers, with a side trip to historic bathing spot Takeo Onsen.
In a nutshell? Like many other regions in Japan, northern Ky?sh? has a strong tradition of artisans producing goods using techniques honed and passed down through generations. I was lucky enough to go off the beaten track to visit workshops and family-run factories dotted all around Saga and Fukuoka prefectures: glassware makers, tea producers, sake brewers, indigo dyers, vinegar fermenters, washi (traditional paper) makers and more.
Watching Arita’s master potters at work © Laura Crawford
You?d be a muppet to miss? If you have an interest in ceramics, history, or both, the town of Arita is well worth a visit. Kilns in Arita have been producing porcelain since the 1600s ? the old quarry, where half a mountain appears to have been carved away, gives some idea of the scale. A few kilns in the area are still run by the same families after many generations. At a museum in town you can see the finely decorated 2m-high vase (made by the Fukagawa family) that was a grand prize winner at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900.
Good grub" The speciality in the city of Fukuoka is tonkotsu ramen ? aka Hakata ramen ? noodles with a rich, pork-based broth. While I could have happily slurped on bowlfuls of that every day, I did get a chance to try a bunch of other regional treats, including Saga beef (as melt-in-the-mouth as the more well-known Kobe beef), and a multi-course meal featuring vinegar as an ingredient in every dish (even the dessert).
A cup of tea would go down a treat in this unusual, but no less beautiful, mug © Laura Crawford
Fridge magnet or better" I came back with a small horde, including a colour-...