Home > Kyoto This Month >> Try Your Hand at Making Traditional Crafts in Kyoto

Try Your Hand at Making Traditional Crafts in Kyoto

Mini Tatami Mat at Yamada Tatami Studio
Run by the Yamada Family (father, son and his wife), Yamada Tatami Studio has been in business for over 76 years in Kyoto making and selling classical tatami mats. In a relaxing atmosphere with the refreshing aroma of igusa rush (material of tatami), the first thing you learn is how tatami mats are made. Mr. Yamada and his son will show and explain about the machinery work in their studio.

After their presentation about tatami including its history, the good effect of tatami, what they are made of, and many other interesting details, it's your turn to try making your own little tatami mat. By the time you finish the workshop, you will feel like having real ones in your house! The completed tatami mat will be a nice Japanese accent and memory of Kyoto in your room. Feel, touch and learn about tatami, an essential item for a traditional Japanese house.

Yamada Tatami Shop: From 10:00 or 14:00 (90 min. per class); 4,800 yen (cash only); Accepting 2-8 people; Closed: Sun. & national holidays; Reservation required by the day before by phone or email; Tel: 090-9115-4843 (9:00-18:00); About 10-min. walk from JR Enmachi Stn.; yamada-kyotatami.com

Elegant Maki-e Lacquer
Decoration at Inui Shikki Lacquer Shop

The name of the country, ''Japan,'' also represents one of the country's most noteworthy and beautiful crafts. Urushi, or lacquer has been part of the life of Japanese people for a long time. Some urushi wares are simply lacquered with black or red color while others are so gorgeous and elegant as their surface is decorated with maki-e art (decoration using silver and gold leaf, mother-ofpearl inlay, etc.).

At Inui-Shikki, visitors can learn how to apply Maki-e art on a tray, photo frame or small accessory and make their own original Kyoto souvenir. The first step is to choose the design pattern or design one for yourself. Next is to slowly trace it with lacquer using a fine brush. The most exciting moment is the final stage which the instructor sprinkles gold powder on the lacquer, revealing a brilliant design. The design can be enhanced with extra mother-of-pearl inlay and gold application. You can add your own name to the Maki-e, too. ''I hope people can learn and feel more acquainted with Japanese lacquer by making a piece for yourself,'' the owner, Ms. Inui says.

Inui Shikki Lacquer Shop: Open: 9:00-16:00; Hands-on class (approximately 1.5 hours): Single tray 3,240 yen, photo frame 4,320 yen, brooch or pendant starting at 5,400 yen; English class manual is available; Reservation only; Tel: 075-231-3552; taiken@inuishikki.com; www.InuiShikki.com