Days 1 to 5
Japan's Traditional Beauty, as well as Kintsugi and Bonsai
During the Edo era, craftspeople from all over Japan gathered in Tokyo to develop outstanding traditional craft techniques. That is why, in Tokyo there are many places where you can experience traditional crafts from every region of the country.
Your journey will begin in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, the center of Edo culture. You will first visit the Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center, which has collected a variety of traditional Japanese crafts and where you can learn about numerous kinds of crafts through exhibitions and events.
After touring traditional crafts from Japan's various regions, you will make you way to the Taku Nakano Ceramic Arts pottery workshop in the Omotesando area, where you can experience kintsugi pottery repair, which is becoming popular overseas. Ceramic art is also available to experience.
You will also make a stop at Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square, where you can purchase certified "Made in Japan" crafts.This place is very much recommended if you want to find crafts from all over Japan.
In addition, if you visit the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum to see world-famous bonsai and the Sumida Hokusai Museum ukiyo-e picture museum, then you will know Japan's charms from two angles, crafts and art.
Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center
The Asakusa area prospered as the center of Edo ("Edo" is the former name of Tokyo) and to this day still has many craftspeople who have inherited traditional techniques. The Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center in Asakusa is a facility that permanently exhibits 250 pieces from approximately 50 types of traditional crafts, such as furniture and accessories, and on the weekend also holds production demonstration events by craftspeople.
Detailed explanations of the exhibits are provided on large displays in the hall and via smartphones, and are available in five languages (Japanese, English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean). Also, make sure you do not miss the space where you can actually purchase traditional crafts.
30 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
Taku Nakano Ceramic Arts
Up-and-coming potter Taku Nakano is already famous for his work through various media. At this studio you can enjoy experiencing both pottery and kintsugi
, which is a technique for repairing cracks in ceramics with gold. The studio is a very modern and artistic space that is quite photogenic, no matter where you look. Samue
work clothes, traditionally worn by Buddhist monks, are available as free rentals, and there is no doubt that slipping one on will motivate your desire to create. The studio is located in a good location that can be walked to from Omotesando Station, and the courses are a compact 1-2 hours, so you can put it into your schedule in between sightseeing destinations.
1 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square
Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square is a gallery and store where you can encounter traditional crafts from all over Japan. Inside the store, there are displays centered around traditional craft goods that have been recognized by Japan, such as sensu
folding fans, calligraphy brushes, and dyed objects, and visitors can look at them up close, touch them, and purchase them. Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square also holds exhibitions that focus on traditional crafts and craftspeople from all over Japan, production demonstrations by craftspeople, and crafting experience events, so there is plenty to see and do. There is also a library space with a collection of books on crafts, and this place is recommended for individuals who want to take a deep dive into traditional Japanese crafts.
30 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
10 minutes by bus
Shunkaen Bonsai Museum
is the art of arranging a tree and moss in a special vessel, called a bonki
, and having it grow beautiful branches. Harmony between the tree and the bonki
will allow you to enjoy both the beauty of nature and the beauty of crafted goods. Shunkaen Bonsai Museum is headed by Kunio Kobayashi, a bonsai
master, and exhibits precious bonsai
both inside and outside of a large Japanese-style house. There are numerous unique creations at the museum, such as bonsai
made from trees that are over 1,000 years old, and mini-bonsai
that fit in the palm of your hand, making it an exhibit that you will never get tired of seeing.
25 minutes by bus
15 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
Sumida Hokusai Museum
pictures are highly regarded both as art and as a craft. Born and raised in what is now present-day Tokyo's Sumida Ward, Katsushika Hokusai was an ukiyo-e
artist who has many overseas fans and collectors. At the Sumida Hokusai Museum, you can view and appreciate Hokusai's works in addition to learning about Hokusai's life and the history of Sumida Ward. In the permanent exhibition room, which consists of seven areas, you will be able to view and appreciate the artwork in multiple languages, such as English, Korean, and French, which makes for an easy-to-understand experience. The futuristic building itself is also attractive, and the exterior, with its unique, curving beauty, looks like a work of art and craftsmanship. The museum is within walking distance from Asakusa and Ryogoku, so it can be enjoyed together with sightseeing in the downtown areas.
10 minutes by train (JR)
JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
50 minutes by train (JR)
Days 6 - 9
To Hokuriku and Monozukuri Cities
In the prefectures in Hokuriku there are many traditional crafts that proudly represent Japan on the world stage. Because you visit Hokuriku during your journey, make sure to learn about the history and culture of the cities where these traditional crafts were born, and take a closer look at their exquisite craftsmanship.
You will begin with a tour of handmade Japanese washi paper at the Echizen Washi Village in Fukui Prefecture. Washi paper is used as a material for various crafts. At this facility, you can learn about the characteristics of Echizen Japanese paper while enjoying the experience of making your own Japanese paper.
Next, in Ishikawa Prefecture, you will visit the site of the historic kiln that had been used for Kutani-ware production for more than 100 years. Do not miss this opportunity to learn more about vibrant and colorful Kutani-ware!
Glass crafts are popular in Toyama Prefecture, so make sure to stop by the Toyama Glass Art Museum and appreciate these glass crafts as beautiful and elegant works of art.
Due to their beauty, metalworking products in the Tsubame-Sanjo area in Niigata Prefecture have become popular worldwide. Taking a tour of their factory is highly recommended, and you can enjoy walking through the facilities while seeing the craftspeople's techniques up close.
As this journey draws to a close, you might feel that "I want to know more about traditional Japanese crafts!" Therefore, the next time you come to Japan, we recommend spending even more time in the cities of your favorite crafts!
Making Echizen Japanese Washi Paper
paper is used for a variety of crafts, such as sensu
folding fans and chochin
paper lanterns. Echizen washi
paper is a type of very high quality handmade washi
paper, and Echizen City is a major producer of it. The Echizen Washi Village is a hands-on facility based around Echizen Japanese washi
paper, which has a history of approximately 1,500 years. There are three facilities within the premises: the Paper & Culture Museum where you can learn about the history of washi
paper, the Papyrus House where you can try your hand at making washi
paper, and the Udatsu Paper & Craft Museum where you can observe the craftspeople's techniques. Going around to each of the facilities is also a fun way to learn about Japanese washi
paper from multiple perspectives.
40 minutes by bus
60 minutes by train (JR)
Kaga Traditional Crafts and the Kutani-yaki Kiln Museum
Ishikawa Prefecture has had thriving cultural industries for a very long time, and many traditional crafts, such as gold leaf crafts and lacquer-ware, are still being made. Among these crafts, Kutani-ware is a type of ceramics with a history of approximately 360 years, and is characterized by its vivid colors and unique designs. Because of its beauty, Kutani-ware also has afficionados all over the world, and at the Kutani-yaki Kiln Museum you can learn more about Kutani-ware. The historic kiln at the museum was moved from Kutani village in 1826, and at the museum you can see the climbing kiln (a nationally designated Historic Site), which has been passed down for over 100 years. In addition to this, you can also enjoy painting Kutani-ware and a potter's wheel experience, etc. under the guidance of an artisan.
15 minutes by bus
50 minutes by train (JR)
JR Hokuriku Shinkansen
5 minutes by bus（Toyama Glass Art Museum）/ 20 minutes by bus（Toyama Glass Workshop）
Glass Crafts in Toyama: Toyama Glass Workshop and Toyama Glass Art Museum
While traveling around Hokuriku, the glass crafts of Toyama Prefecture are a must-see attraction. The pharmaceutical industry has flourished in Toyama Prefecture for more than 300 years, which has given rise to many manufacturers of the glass bottles that are used for chemical containers. Nowadays, both glass crafts and practical glass products are popular, and Toyama City is known as one of the world's leading glass towns. At Toyama Glass Studio you can view the areas where glass works are being made and at the shop's gallery you can purchase original works made by glass artisans from both inside and outside Toyama Prefecture. There are also hands-on lessons where you can have fun trying glass blowing and making paperweights, etc. The Toyama Glass Art Museum exhibits a large number of glass art works that are produced both domestically and overseas by world-famous glass engravers, and you are sure to be fascinated by the charms of this mysterious and dazzling glass art.
10 minutes by bus
JR Hokuriku Shinkansen
65 minutes by train (JR)
JR Joetsu Shinkansen
Tsubame-Sanjo Metalworking Products
The Tsubame-Sanjo has long been known as a “Metalworking Area” town, and a variety of metalworking products, such as knives and cutlery, have been actively manufactured here since the production of “Wakugi” (Japanese nails) 400 years ago. There are many companies and craftspeople here that are connected to the metalworking industry, and their outstanding skills and beautiful products are known throughout the world. Their traditional techniques are not just used in practical products, but also in crafts.Through the "As it is" cutlery brand, you can encounter beautifully designed cutlery that is made via advanced metal processing techniques so as not to damage the texture of the stainless steel.
This journey introduced a trip to encounter the traditional crafts of Tokyo and Hokuriku across 11 days and 10 nights. We invite you to come and immerse yourself in Japan's history and traditions.
Example transportation have been provided for reference, but walking around and exploring in the areas near the spots introduced in this journey as the mood takes you is also recommended.
*The information provided here is as of March 2022.
*Transportation information does not include the number of transfers or transfer time.
*Admission fees may be charged depending on the spot/facility. For the latest information on business hours, days when spots/facilities are regularly closed, and prices, etc., please check the official website for each spot/facility or check directly with the spot/facility.