Bizen, ceramics and ceramics and more ceramics
Throughout Japan there are many areas that are famous for making ceramics, a traditional that has been going on for times long gone. However, what is interesting is that no two ceramic areas are the same. The earth that is used to mold cups, plates, vases, and a variety of other products is different in each area, meaning the final product is also different in color, texture, etc. One area in particular I like is Bizen, which is located in the Okayama Prefecture on the main island of Honshu. It isn't a place to go to several times a year, but once every so often I get the urge to pack up my bags, hope into the car (or train if you don't have a car) and take a long long drive to Bizen. Basically you can spend a day here checking out all the different ceramic shops and also see the Pottery Kilns burning and smoke coming from the chimneys. Even if I don't have anything particular to buy, I usually end up buying some Bizen product. They are just such high quality and the will last a lifetime as long as you don't drop them on purpose. Maybe Japanese ceramics aren't that known to overseas travellers, but once you come across them, you will most likely take an instant attachment to them.