Do you know that woodcraft is a 200-year old specialty of Hakone? We call it yosegi-zaiku, or traditional Japanese parquetry. Beautiful items with intricate patterns are created using different types and colors of wood.
Let me tell you about the two techniques we use: Muku and Zuku. With Muku, we combine different woods into a pattern, and then shape the wood to form 3D items. You can find Muku photo frames, wind-up music boxes (some play J-pop tunes when opened!), necklaces, earrings, keychains, and the famous puzzle box (himitsu bako). I think they are great for keeping your little secrets because you need to ‘unlock’ a few hidden sliding parts to open the box. The bigger boxes are even harder to open … so make sure you keep your opening instructions safely!
Zuku is different technique that originated in Hakone. We combine different woods, then the designs are sanded and shaved into paper-thin pattern sheets. We paste this onto items, also called Zuku – one of the most popular is Zuku handbags.
So where can you buy all these unique items? I recommend the Yosegi-zaiku specialty store called Kiro, near the Hakone-Yumoto Station (a 15-minute walk). They have a long wood crafting history and their own workshop … artisans here create new pieces every day! You can find souvenirs like chopsticks, flower vases, and bookmarks; at prices to suit every tourist. I’m sure you’ll find something beautiful to buy.
Yosegi-Zaiku Kiro Parquetry
Address: 386-36 Yumoto, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0311, Japan
Phone: not available