You probably know the name Noritake, and how having a set of Noritake tableware was seen as a status symbol for many. It was probably your grandmother’s best china, or something your parents received as a wedding present, the fancy tableware that only came out at Christmas or on the most special occasions. What you might not have known is that Noritake originated in Nagoya, home to the Noritake Gardens, Museum and Craft Center.
Noritake was established in 1876 in the former Nagoya suburb of Noritake by brothers Ichizaemon and Yutaka Morimura, with wares aimed mostly at the European market. Since the late 19th Century, Noritake has been viewed as the Wedgewood of Japan. In fact, it is possibly the nearest to a rival that Wedgewood has in regards to the best fine china and porcelain.
Even if you feel that you’re more the Bull in the China Shop type, not impressed by Grandma’s florally tea cups and gold rimmed, rose patterned fine plates, you’ll be impressed by the Noritake Gardens, Museum and Craft Center.
The gardens have been built on the former factory grounds, which also feature the large antique red-bricked factory buildings and kilns that were still in use as recently as 1975, and have been fully refurbished throughout while retaining it’s Meiji Period charm. The Noritake Gardens are worth strolling around for a relaxing break, and provides for some interesting photographs with the old fashioned buildings and gardens contrasting with the skyscrapers of the Nagoya Station area.
Today, the Noritake factory continues to produce some of the world’s most prized fine china by hand. Many thousands of visitors from around the world come to see the Noritake Gardens, Museum and Craft Centre just moments away from Nagoya Station. The center contains a museum dedicated to the vast collection of dishes, plates, cups and saucers produced by the prestigious chinaware manufacturers, and another to the history of world ceramics. Learn the history and culture behind this world famous brand as you watch the skilled artists working on developing new tableware as well as continuing to hand craft classic designs as well. You’ll see the brushwork artists carefully hand painting the delicate pieces with exquisite designs, and there’s even the chance for you to try your hand at producing your own original pottery and designs.
Three Noritake Outlet shops cater to three different levels of shopping, Stage for high end pieces, Palette features various tableware, and not just Noritaka, while Box has more affordable Notitake ware for sale. Each store contains a wide variety of seasonal and special character design items at very reasonable prices. Many of these items would make great souvenirs, particularly as the Noritake name is renown for it’s quality and prestige. The center also contains a café and restaurant to enjoy a tea or coffee, inside or al fresco, or even a meal, naturally, served on the best Noritake tableware!