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5 hands-on workshops to try in Tokyo

Partners Information: Tokyo is home to 41 traditional artisan crafts and many other traditional disciplines. Attending a workshop can be a great way to take a deeper dive into traditional Japanese culture, and nothing makes a better souvenir than something you crafted yourself under the guidance of one of the capital's finest artisans. 

Traditional crafts like origami paper folding and disciplines like ikebana flower arranging are well known but there are also many great hands-on workshops for lesser-known traditional arts and crafts. Here are 5 ideas for hands-on traditional experiences to get you into the spirit of Edo.

 

1. Edo Kiriko - Cut glass making

© EDO KIRIKO COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION 

Dating back to the early 19th century, Edo Kiriko is a traditional method of glass cutting from the Edo Period (1603-1867). This beautiful handicraft still has a place in Tokyo life even today, with 7 locations in the prefecture still making it. 

You can visit the Edo Kiriko-kan in Ryogoku, northeastern Tokyo and learn how the glass is blown and cut. Take part in a workshop to try your hand at creating your own beautiful glass in the Edo style. 

More information: Go Tokyo | Edo Kiriko Workshop
 

2. Edo Furin - Wind chime making

Japanese wind chime / Shutterstock 

'Furin', Japanese wind chimes, are a common sight (and sound) across the country in the summertime, and the gentle tinkling sound is believed to create a sense of coolness. They have a long history, with the creation of Edo Furin dating back to the Edo Period.

At Shinohara Furin you can try your hand at creating or designing your very own wind chime. There are two workshops to choose from: in the more comprehensive of the two, you try glass blowing to create your own original furin then decorate it. In the shorter workshop, you paint your own design onto a pre-blown furin, with typical designs including summer themes like fireworks, goldfish and summer flowers.

More information: Go Tokyo | Edo Furin (Wind Bell) Making Workshop

 

3. Knife making with a swordsmith

Knife-making / Shutterstock 

Create your very own 'kogatana' knife under the guidance of a real Japanese swordsmith master over the course of 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. 

More information: Voyagin | Become a swordsmith in Tokyo and make a samurai knife!
 

4. Washi paper making

© Ozu Washi

The Ozu Washi shop 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. 

The building also houses a tea shop with many beautiful washi paper and calligraphy items, a gallery space which hosts exhibitions and guest washi craftsmen from around Japan, as well as the Ozu Culture School and the Ozu History Museum.

More information: Ozu Washi | Handmade Washi Experience Studio

 

5. Aizome - Indigo dyeing

Aizome dyeing / Photo AC

Although the art of indigo dying dates back to the Edo Period, there has been a resurgence in demand for the craft by modern apparel makers wanting to use materials created using traditional techniques. 

Ome City in western Tokyo was once one of Japan's largest textile producers, and Kosoen Studio carries on the tradition of indigo dyeing at their shop by the Tama River. Learn more about the process and make your own unique indigo-dyed item. You can choose from a range of items to dye, including a handkerchief and a cotton scarf or you can even bring your items to dye.  

More information: Kosoen | Official site

 

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