The Pride of Japan: Traditional Crafts of Kansai
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.
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?
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.