Experience Traditional Japan With These 7 Cultural Workshops | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
traditional japan kintsugi

Experience Traditional Japan With These 7 Cultural Workshops

By Guidable Writers Jan 21, 2021

This post is also available in: Vietnamese Indonesian

In the new year are you looking for something new to help you learn more about Japanese culture? Maybe you want to try a new hobby or craft to connect with traditional Japan!

Arts From Traditional Japan

Japan is a country full of tradition and culture, and once you visit, you might be tempted to acquire a keepsake of such cultural heritage. Most people opt to just buy a souvenir, but what if you could make a unique keepsake of your own? Surely it will bring more meaning to your stay in Japan, however long. It might even become your new hobby, something you want to show your family and friends in your home country. Read on for the 7 hobbies you can pick up and learn while in Japan.

The Japanese Art of Kintsugi

traditional japan kintsugi

Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery. Instead of throwing away a broken cup or a vase, Japanese people often choose to repair them instead, using this method. This method has roots in the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: appreciating things as they are, even if imperfect, and believing nothing is ever broken beyond repair. The result is art in itself, as each repair is different, and can even look more beautiful than the original. To fix pottery using the Kintsugi style, you use a mix of lacquer or resin with metallic or gold powder. To be able to learn this art, you can attend workshops in Tokyo and online from around 5,000 yen.

Some available workshops:

Makers Base – Tokyo (Japanese) 

Kuge Crafts – Tokyo

Deeper Japan – Tokyo

Atelier Seikicho – Online

Ukiyo-e of Traditional Japan

traditional japan ukiyoe

Many people worldwide are familiar with ukiyo-e, a Japanese traditional artwork made from woodblock prints. Ukiyo means “floating world” and pictures in Ukiyo often depict the entertaining side of life in Japan. When it was first introduced, Ukiyo was created in monochrome, but evolved into creations of vibrant colors and utilizes a more complicated process to finish as it requires more than one woodblock. In the past, Ukiyo-e printing was a 3 artisan job: one to draw the pattern, one to carve the pattern in a woodblock, and one to transfer the painting from woodblock to paper. Depending on the workshop, you may not be able to experience all of the steps. However you can experience firsthand how to paint Ukiyo-e through workshops available in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Some available workshops:

helloaini (Japanese)

Washi Paper Making

traditional japan washi paper

The Japanese have also cultivated their own paper using a traditional method called washi. The texture of this paper is a bit rougher than your average printer paper and is made from Hoso plant pulp. To learn how to make washi paper, you can visit Washi no Sato, a paper-making factory that UNESCO acknowledged as a Human Intangible Cultural Heritage in Chichibu, Saitama. Or you can visit Udatsu Paper and Craft Museum in Echizen, Fukui, which is the home of Echizen Washi.

Some available workshops:

Ozu Washi – Tokyo

Washi Studio Kamikoya – Kochi

Echizen Washi – Fukui

Nishijin Weaving

traditional japan nishijin

Nishijin is the art of weaving, mainly using silk in the past when it was first introduced from China. The result is unique and is often found in Japanese kimono or in obi, the traditional sash for a kimono. In order to learn how to do Nishijin, you can visit Nishijin Textile Center in Kyoto.

Some available workshops:

Nishijin Textiles – Kyoto

Ikkanbari Art – Kyoto

Wajima Nuri Lacquerware

traditional japan Wajima Nuri lacquerware

Wajima Nuri is a lacquerware-making art famous in Japanese traditional household products. This form of lacquer work adorns many traditional kitchen wares in Japan. The steps in Wajima Nuri are extremely complicated—it is said that one lacquerware takes around 124 steps to finish. The process is also extremely dangerous. The materials used to make lacquerware, the tree resin and minerals called jinoko, can be poisonous to the skin. Therefore, such skills are difficult to teach in a workshop. Wajima Nuri businesses is often inherited through family lineage, and the place in which such works are manufactured is called a kura. Even though it is not possible to experience a full Wajima workshop, many Wajima Nuri stores and work stations in Wajima, Kanazawa offer a walk-through of their kura, complete with a brochure in English if you find it difficult to understand the Japanese.


Amezaiku Sculpting

Amezaiku is the art of sculpted candies. Today, only around 40 Amezaiku artisans remain in Japan. In order to sculpt a candy properly, the candy mixture has to stay at a temperature of around 90 degrees Celsius for it to be moldable, and you have to finish your work in less than four minutes before the mixture hardens. You can learn about this endangered art and make your own Amezaiku in Sendagi, Tokyo.

Some available workshops:

Ameshin – Tokyo

Yatsuhashi Making

traditional japan workshops yatsuhashi

Yatsuhashi is a traditional Japanese confectionery made from rice flour, cinnamon, and sugar. It was first made as a way to utilize rice leftovers. It is usually sold in three types: baked as cookie sheets with a rough texture, unbaked (nama-yatsuhashi) with the texture of mochi, or unbaked and filled with red bean paste. It is one of the popular sweets tourists buy when they come to Kyoto, and in Otabe, the main manufacturer of these sweets, you can learn how to make one. Otabe is located in Kyoto.

Some available workshops:


Experience Traditional Japan Through These Art Workshops

Trying out different arts and crafts is a great way to learn about Japanese cultures and traditions. Are there any you would like to try?


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