The Pride of Japan: Traditional Crafts of Kansai

Traditional craft is based on materials distinct to each region, and produced with traditional methods and skills. They are deeply entwined with the Japanese way of life and inherited through daily usage, made using traditional technology and techniques. Year by year, the technology is refined by many artisans, and knowledge about the selection of materials and ingredients has been passed down, as well as production methods. In each region, local traditional materials are used, and “centers” of production are formed in specific areas. Each craft is deeply related with the lives of locals from each region, materializing and developing as local industries.
We’d like to introduce traditional crafts from the Kansai area that you’ll surely want to witness yourself.

Tottori, a treasure trove of folk art and handicrafts

Tottori has a wealth of tradition. Connect with time-honored culture and the Japanese spirit through hands-on experiences. Try your hand at crafts passed down from time immemorial and engage all five senses in activities that will have you feeling at one with tradition.

Wagasa Denshokan: Craft a Traditional Japanese Umbrella
In vogue during the Edo period, the traditional Japanese umbrella called wagasa is made from wood and oiled paper; to this day, it does not fail to charm with its whimsical and chic design. With a careful eye and a steady hand, craft your own Japanese umbrella in this challenging and fun make-your-own wagasa workshop. Take home your own piece of traditional Japanese culture to treasure for a lifetime.

Furusato Kenkomura: Take a Pottery Workshop
Legend has it that the discovery of Misasa Hot Springs was aided by a Bodhisattva who revealed its location to a samurai, in his dream, as a reward for saving a white wolf. This gave rise to a unique form of pottery called Hakuro-yaki (literally meaning “white wolf ware”) using clay from the area. Make your own masterpiece of traditional Japanese art with guidance from a local artisan, or purchase a piece to bring home.

  • Wagasa
  • Group Tours
    Hakuro-yaki pottery 

The Traditional Crafts of Nara: Takayama Tea Whisks and Nara Brushes

Nara Prefecture is home to many traditional crafts, but from them we’d like to introduce Takayama tea whisks and Nara brushes.
Takayama tea whisks are tea whisks produced around Ikoma and Takayama. They are said to date back to the mid-Muromachi period. The tea whisks are made out of henon bamboo, black bamboo, and soot-colored bamboo that has been trimmed during the winter, blanched, and dried in the sun. The kind of bamboo, the shape of the point, the thickness and length of the bamboo, and the color of the thread differ between each school. Among the techniques used to make Takayama tea whisks, the most difficult one is aji-kezuri (tine shaving) as it affects the taste of the tea, and traditional methods are required. The tea whisks are mostly handmade with a knife and fingers.
Nara brushes are said to have been born when the famous monk Kukai brought back brush making skills from China, leading to the production of brushes in Nara. Animal hairs with a good balance of softness and firmness that absorb ink well are used in brush making. By deciding the ratio and length of the hair according to the hair’s characteristic, and taking time to organize the hairs using a traditional method of kneading and mixing, high-end writing brushes with a brilliant touch in their tips are made.You can also experience making these traditional crafts yourself. Why not come and visit Nara Prefecture?

  • Group Tours
    Takayama tea whisks
  • Group Tours
    Nara brushes

The Dance of the Swords: the Winter and Summer Campaigns of Osaka -Let the Battle Begin!-

Osaka Castle’s castle tower was the stage of the Winter and Summer Campaigns of the Seige of Osaka fought between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi families, purported to be the last major battle. In the Summer Campaign, where many swords danced, the supposedly impregnable Osaka Castle finally fell, ending the civil war era. At the castle tower, you can glimpse the history of the civil war era and imagine the warriors back then though the collection of swords and armory on display. There is also a tour that takes you on a 20-minute pleasure boat ride around the castle’s inner moat, providing a view of the sturdy stonewalls and the castle tower from a different angle.
Additionally, the Osaka Museum of History, where you can savor both Osaka’s local history and archaeology at once, is nearby, allowing you to feel the long history of the region from ancient to modern times. At the shopping complexes Jo-Terrace Osaka and Miraiza Osaka-jo that are located within Osaka Castle Park, you can enjoy the diverse food culture of Osaka, ranging from the local soul foods okonomiyaki and takoyaki to Italian cuisine and barbeque.

  • Osaka Castle
  • Group Tours
    Sword and armor

How About Enjoying the Beautiful Gardens of Koya-san?

The religious city of Koya-san, opened 1200 years ago by Koubou Daishi Kuukai, is home to 117 temples, and 51 of them provide lodging to worshippers and tourists as guesthouses. At the guesthouses, you can experience service and meditation under the instruction of monks, and eat Shojin vegetarian cuisine. You can also enjoy watching the temples’ beautiful gardens.
Some of the temple guesthouse gardens are created by famous landscape gardeners back in the Edo period or designated as Important Cultural Properties, and their spaces are works of art that are filled with embellishments to enamor those who watch. The gardens vary greatly between guesthouses, and they represent the histories and characteristics of each guesthouse. One of their charms is that you can enjoy different scenery from season to season, such as flowers blooming each season, the red foliage of autumn, and the snow of winter.
Why not spend a relaxing time and enjoy peace of mind watching the attractive and magnificent gardens of Koya-san?

  • Garden in Koya-san
  • Group Tours
    Garden in Koya-san

Only in Tokushima: Experiencing the Traditional Crafts of Indigo Dyeing and and Kito Cedar Chopstick Making

The indigo hue of indigo-dyed fabric is known around the world as “Japan blue”. The color was adopted for the official emblem of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and is a deep and vivid color that represents Japan. In Tokushima Prefecture, the production of peat that is used for indigo dyeing has been widespread for ages, and high-quality peat produced in Tokushima is known as “Awa indigo”. At workshops throughout the prefecture, you can experience indigo dyeing using Awa indigo.
Additionally, the town of Naka, located in the southern area of the prefecture, is known as the home of one of the three most beautiful forests in Japan. There, 95% of the land is forest, and the craft of Kito cedar chopstick making was born from the foresting industry that protects the natural environment ranging from beautiful mountains and rivers to the ocean. The chopsticks use heartwood (the core of wood), which is resistant to rotting, and by shaping the square cedar wood into a pentagon by hand using a plane and a cradle, even beginners can easily try chopstick making.
Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, come down to experience making your very own original chopsticks and indigo-dyed fabrics while listening to the murmuring of the glorious Naka River.

  • Indigo dyeing
  • Group Tours
    Kito cedar chopstick