Tokyo traditions today – 5 hands-on Workshop Experiences to look forward to

From Washi paper making, to windchime and knife crafting

TOKYO
DESTINATION OF THE MONTH
WEEK 3 OF 4

Research has been showing that when leisure travel resumes to Japan the luxury market will be seeking authentic cultural experiences like never before.

Tokyo is home to 41 traditional artisan crafts and many other disciplines. Attending a hands-on workshop run by a local expert can be a great way to take a deeper dive into Tokyo culture. And surely nothing makes a better souvenir than something you crafted yourself under the guidance of one of the capital’s finest artisans.

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Traditional crafts like origami paper folding and disciplines like ikebana flower arranging are well known but there are some great hands-on workshops in Tokyo for lesser-known traditional arts and crafts. Here are Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau’s top 5 picks for hands-on traditional experiences to get your clients inspired and into the spirit of Edo.

Edo Kiriko – cut glass making

Edo Kiriko cut glass making © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Dating back to the early 19th century, Edo Kiriko is a traditional method of glass cutting. This beautiful handicraft still has a place in Tokyo life. You can visit the Edo Kiriko-kan in Ryogoku (northeastern Tokyo) and learn how the glass is blown and cut. Workshops allow visitors to try their hand at creating their own beautiful glass in the Edo style. There are 7 locations in Tokyo still making Edo Kiriko.

Find out more about Edo Kiriko-kan Workshop here, and learn more about Edo Kiriko here.
Location: Ryogoku, Sumida Ward


Edo Furin – windchime making

Windchime making experience © Shinohara Furin Honpo

‘Furin’ are Japanese wind bells, the ‘fu’ character stands for wind, and the ‘rin’ means bell in Japanese.

Edo furin windchimes have been crafted in Japan since the Edo period. At Shinohara Furin, you can try your hand at creating or designing your very own chime. There are two workshops to choose from: in the more comprehensive of the two, you get to try glass blowing on your own and create your own original furin and decorate it. A shorter session shows you how to paint your own design onto a pre-blown chime, typical designs include summer themes like fireworks, goldfish, and summer flowers.

Find out more about Shinohara Furin here and view a video of the Workshop here.
Location: Edogawa Ward


Knife making with a swordsmith

Knife-making © Flystock Shutterstock

This is an experience of a lifetime! Rarely even experienced by Japanese nationals there are workshops that teach the fine art of the swordsmith to create your very own ‘kogatana’ knife. Not for the faint-hearted, this sort of workshop is the real deal, so be prepared to get physical and remember to bring a change of clothes as it is a sweaty business. This workshop helps you to create your very own knife under the guidance of a real Japanese swordsmith master. The workshop takes around 7 hours. After making the knife, the swordsmith will polish and sharpen it and send it by post so you receive it when you are back at home. Whilst in Tokyo, why not take the opportunity to visit a knife store to purchase a masterpiece by one of the true master swordsmiths to take home and cherish as you prepare your daily meals at home.

More about this experience here.
Location: Nishiarai, Adachi Ward


Washi paper making

Washi paper-making © Ozu Washi

The Ozu Washi workshop has been located in central Tokyo’s Nihonbashi for many generations and is somewhat of a cultural centre. Here you can discover the beauty of Japanese washi paper and even try to make it yourself. Making traditional paper out of local fibres looks easy at first but there is more to this art and much skill and patience is required. You will need to focus during this workshop, as even the slightest mistake will prevent you from making your perfect sheet of paper, which is a truly rewarding experience. The centre houses a tea shop with many tempting washi paper and calligraphy items, the washi experience studio and upstairs a gallery space hosts exhibitions and guest washi craftsmen from around Japan, as well as the Ozu Culture School and the Ozu History Museum.

More About Ozu Washi workshop here.
Location: Nihonbashi, Chuo Ward


Aizome – Indigo dyeing

In Ome City, in Tokyo’s west, you will feel a long way from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Ome was once one of Japan’s largest textile producers. The Kosoen Studio carries on the famous tradition of indigo dyeing at their location by the Tama River.

Even though their art dates back to the Edo period, there has been a resurgence in demand for traditional indigo dying by modern apparel makers wanting to use materials created by the artisanal approach.

They explain to visitors how indigo is made and there is a workshop available in English so you can make your own special piece of indigo-dyed cloth.

More about Kosoen Studio here.
Location: Ome City, Okutama Region

Aizome indigo dyeing

Information: In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), various facilities around Tokyo may change their operating days or hours. In addition, some events may be canceled or postponed. Please check the official facility or event websites for the latest updates and information.

*Visit the Official Tokyo Guide for COVID-19 updates.

TOKYO
DESTINATION OF THE MONTH
WEEK 3 OF 4
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