Nishimura Tie-dye

September 1, 2019

by Saki Hirota

Kyoto has been the center of Japanese culture since ancient times. Long ago, it needed to produce clothing for the royal court. Using water from the Kamogawa River, dyeing colors were vivid and of high quality. In Kyoto, there are different methods of dyeing fabrics. One style of dyeing in Kyoto is tie-dye.

There are many countries that do tie-dye. Japan, however, is famous for its own style, called Kyo-dye. Kyo dye is generic name to dyeing in Kyoto. One form of Kyo dye is Shikanoko dye, which was connected with nobility in ancient times.

Tie-dye is created by making knuckles, or knots, in a cloth before dyeing begins. This prevents the penetration of dye for that part for the cloth. Also, this results in a unique pattern on the cloth after dyeing is finished.

There are actually many different tie-dye methods. Some say there are over 100 types in Japan. This includes some that create an uneven and three-dimensional effect on fabric’s surface. What makes tie-dye special is the unique bleeding and blurring that occurs. For example, if you tie-dye 100 different cloths, each one will be different from all the rest. This is particular and unique result of tie-dye.

History of Tie-Dye

The history of tie-dye is very long. Originating in India, tie-dye was transmitted through the Silk Road to Japan in the 6th and 7th centuries. From that point, dyeing technology evolved in Japan. In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568~1600) stitch-resist dyeing was employed. It is a dyeing technique called Tsujigahana, which means “flowers at the crossroads.” There is also a method of dyeing called dappled. It was popular in the Edo period and became highly developed. It is a type of dyeing common in Kyoto in which the cloth is wrung or twisted during the dyeing process, which produces a cloth that has dappled spots.

Workshop Nishimura

This shop was built in 1929, and does traditional tie-dye, or Kyo-dye. Mr. Keiji Nishimura is the owner. This shop name is Workshop Nishimura. This shop is very old and small, as it is a family-run business. They make and sell tie dye products. For example, we can buy scarves, T-shirts, handkerchiefs, etc. Furthermore, we can experience a making our own tie die. It is very easy and enjoyable.

Preferences of Nishimura Tie-dye

Many customers wonder if it is possible to use vegetable dyes in the tie-dye process. The method of dyeing in which dye is made or taken from vegetation is called kusakizome. The answer is no. Basically, Nishimura uses chemically synthetic dyes. This is the most famous and popular method, so Nishimura tie-dye uses this method.

Experiencing Tie-Die

We can experience making our own tie dye at Nishimura Workshop. This is especially popular with Japanese children and foreigners. Along the way, customers learn the techniques of tie dye while making their own tie dye item. Afterwards, the items are mailed to the customer’s house when the items are finally dry. So it takes several days to receive them.

The name of the experience is Kyoto Shikanoko Dyeing. It takes 40 minutes ~ 2 hours.

There are four types of items you can make:

『Large format handkerchief』1500〜

『T shirts』3000〜

『Eco bag』3000〜

『Scarf』3000〜 etc…

 

Access

〒600-8377

Up Gojo-cho 392, Omiya Tori Matsubara, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto city in Kyoto

Tel: 075-821-0640
Open: AM10:00- PM7:00
Closed: Irregular holidays

Nishijin-ori

by Genki Ueno & Sakoda Shumpei

Japan is home to arguably the most unique cultures in the world, with its unique blend of old
tradition and a technologically advanced society. For many newcomers, it may feel like
walking through a couple of centuries of rich history in only a day. Hence it comes as no
surprise that since a few years ago, Kyoto, the heart of old Japanese tradition, has become
one of the most famous and popular tourist destinations in the world.

Foreigner Appeals: Kimono

Some traditions are still practised in Kyoto today, the most well-known example perhaps
being the fascinating world of the geisha. Geisha often, if not always sport a painted face with
jet black wigs adorned with beautiful accessories, but it is the beautiful traditional item of
clothing known as a “kimono” that they wear that piques the interest of many tourists, as they
flock from around the world to try this special garment. As the number of visitors from foreign
countries has been increasing, producers have been making kimono in “foreigner sizes” to
further appeal to tourists, encouraging them to try this experience. It is only after try wearing it
that they will truly realise its beauty and intricacy. Kimono has a set of complicated rules, and
it is a major task to coordinate all the pieces properly. People usually need help from the shop
assistants, and the process is quite time-consuming, and it is not exactly the most
comfortable thing to wear. As tedious as it may sound, wearing kimono is truly an art, and is
extremely special for anyone who is fortunate to have the experience of wearing one.

The Art of Nishijin

There are many kinds of Kimono; the one chosen for discussion is a woven Obi called
“Nishijin-ori”. Nishijin weaving, the type of weaving used to make these obi, originated in
Kyoto over 1200 years ago. It uses many different types of coloured yarns, which are weaved
into decorative designs. Nishijin-ori is the most sophisticated and treasured Obi in
Japan. Each obi is unique and are known to have spectacular designs, largely due to the fact
that Nishijin weaving employs very tedious and specialised procedures, thus ensuring the
quality of this art form.

As mentioned, the Obi is undoubtedly what represents the craftsmanship of the Nishijin-ori
art. Its threads come in many colors, including gold, and it is glamorously thick and rich, so it
goes without mentioning that they are very heavy as well. Though Nishijin Obi are indeed very
expensive, one is enough to last a lifetime. In recent times, more items of clothing have been
made employing the Nishijin technique, such as neckties. From a large obi to a small key
holder, it is assumed that no matter the size of the item, products from Nishijin-ori are always
impeccably made with remarkable quality. Due to its popularity and unique beauty, Nishijin-ori
also receives many orders from famous designer brands around the world such as Chanel,
Louis Vuitton and Dior to make other products, such as wallets, bookmarks and other
accessories. Known celebrities have also commissioned such items. Products that are made
of Nishijin-ori are great to own and can be enjoyed for a long time — it is rare to find such
timeless beauty.

History and Origin

While Nishijin-ori‘s origin lie in Kyoto, it’s beginnings are specifically linked to the Yasushi
family, who immigrated to Kyoto from China around the 5th to 6th century, and introduced
how to make silk textiles to the local people. By the 8th century, the royal court had created
an official branch to supervise the textile artists, and their production. In other words, this was
a government owned and operated industry. These artists used to live together around
Chouza machi, Kamigyo ku, Kyoto, which later on became a textile city. Between 1467 and
1477, during the Onin war, Kyoto suffered a long period of civil war between the East and the
West, and many artists fled Kyoto. As a result, the whole industry was almost extinguished.
Though the demand for these products dwindled in the 15th century, it regained popularity
soon after the war ended, and the art of weaving began to thrive once again. The textile
industry was revived in the area of Imagawa, Omiya.The growing weaving community
supplied materials for products commissioned by the Imperial Palace and samurai lords. As
these products were almost exclusively commissioned by aristocratic figures, the community
was rewarded generously. This increased productivity, leading to the development and
refining of new procedures to create newer, more intricate designs, such as the use of the
gold brocade and Damask silk that originated in China, during the Ming Dynasty. The literal
translation of “Nishiji” is “the West position”, referring to to the area in which many Kyoto
residents returned home after the war ended, in 1480.

However, the art of Nishijin faced another crisis in 1837, as there was an abrupt stop in trade
due to the unavailability of materials due to crop failures. Kyoto as a whole faced hard times,
and when the new capital of Japan was announced to be Tokyo, this was thought to be the
end of the Nishijin era. Thankfully, the art was brought back to life nearly half a century later,
after the Japanese travelled to Europe and learned new weaving techniques (such as the
Jacquard loom and the flying shuttle), later incorporating them into their own traditional
techniques. By the end of the 19th century, the Nishijin textile trade was well-developed and
possessed technology shared by the Europeans. This also marked the beginning of the use
of machinery in Japanese trade.

Nishijin in the Present and Future

Today, Nishijin weaving is seen more frequently in Japanese ceremonies, most prominently in
traditional Japanese weddings. It can be seen specifically on the bride’s kimono, which have
usually been handed down from many generations. These designs typically range from
scenes of nature, different breeds of birds, and several different types of flowers.
Taking into account its rich history, it is unsurprising that the intricate art of Nishijin weaving
still thrives even to this day. Commissioning or purchasing an item of Nishijin origin is
expensive, and only those of great affluence are able to afford them.

However, the Japanese textile community has dedicated the “Nishijin textile center”, rightfully located in Kyoto, to anyone and everyone who is interested in experiencing the meticulous process of Nishijin
weaving, as well as seeing the spectacular art up close.

Zuikougama – A Pottery Shop

by Saki Hirota & Mai taniguchi

The Zuikou kiln is a place in eastern Kyoto where visitors can go to experience making kiyomizuyaki, which is the style of pottery made in the area on the east side of the city called Gojozaka, near the famous Kiyomizu Temple. Kiyomizuyaki is a type of kyoyaki, which is a general term for pottery made in the Kyoto city area. The history of kyoyaki is very old.

It said that pottery creation in the Kyoto region began in the Kofun period (300~538 AD). In Muromachi period (1336~1573), color painted pottery began to make its appearance. Later, in the early part of Edo period (1603~1868), a man named Ninsei Nonomura lived. He is known now as the father of kiyomizuyaki, as he gave birth to the style that we know today. In 1771, the Rokubei kiln was established by the Rokubei clan, a well-known family of ceramists with over 240 years of history. Later, one of the members of the Rokubei family started a new branch called the Tsuchitani kiln, which was headed by Tsuchitani Zuiko, who was born in 1867. This was the start of the Zuiko kiln.

About the Zuiko Kiln

The Zuiko kiln is worth a visit for anyone wanting to experience Japanese culture, especially if they appreciate pottery. There are a number of advantages to visiting the kiln.

First, it is located in one of the main tourist areas of Kyoto, in the area surrounding the famous Kiyomizu Temple. The kiln is only 7 minutes on foot from Kiyomizu Temple and a 10-minute walk from the famous Yasaka Shrine. The area is not far from Kyoto station either, making it convenient for visitors. So, in addition to visiting the kiln to experience pottery making and see an impressive gallery of kiyomizuyaki, but tourists can also enjoy a very easy and comfortable walk around the area.

Also, Zuiko kiln offers a great service to visitors. For example, to better experience making kiyomizuyaki, visitors can borrow work clothes, which give them the feeling of being a true craftsman. And along the way, they are free to take a photos with their smartphones to share with their friends. The kiln’s staff is also very helpful, and they can communicate in English, which many foreign visitors appreciate.

Finally, the quality of the pottery visitors can make at Zuiko kiln is excellent. Not only is it easy to do, but the result is pottery that is thin, light, beautiful, and most of all: unique. The process visitors experience is the same one that authentic craftsmen of kiyomizuyaki carry out. This not only makes visitors happy, but they can take away a piece of pottery that can make someone or something appear more beautiful, such as a dining table. Also, Kiyomizuyaki can be made with many different colors, such as pearl, lemon, candy, turquoise, and bronze. These colors are very cute, so visitors can enjoy them.

Making Kiyomizuyaki

The Zuiko kiln offers three different plans to visitors who want to experience making kiyomizuyaki.

Light Plan

This is the shortest and cheapest of the three plans. It costs 1,900 yen + tax and only takes 20 minutes to complete. It allows visitors to make their very own cup in the kiyomizu style. They can also choose their own color, such as pearl, lemon, or candy.

Standard Plan

This is the most popular plan amongst visitors. It costs 2,900 yen + tax, and takes about 40 minutes to complete. However, if visitors plan ahead and make a reservation on the website before they arrive, they can receive a discount. Once underway, visitors can make their favorite size and shape of the pottery they make. They can also choose their favorite color from all the colors in the shop.

Zuiko Plan

This is the most expensive and time-consuming plan that Zuiko kiln offers. It costs 4,900 yen + tax and takes 60 minutes to complete. Alhough the price is a little high, this is a very special plan because visitors can choose to make 2 different types of kiyomizuyaki in their own shape and color.

Regardless of the plan, if visitors do not feel like carrying the pottery away when they leave, they can opt to have the product sent to their home in the mail. Of course, there is an extra charge for this.

Our Experience

We decided to try this kiyomizuyaki-making experience at Zuiko kiln. First, we received an explanation of contents of the workshop and the fee. Before we began, we were allowed to look at many different examples of finished pottery, to give us some ideas on what we could make. We chose Standard plan. Then it was time to start making our own pottery. We were able to choose any shape we liked. We chose a bowl and a cup. And whenever we needed help, the friendly and knowledgeable staff was there to help us. Once we were done, we then could choose one design from many different samples. From there, the craftsman drew the design onto our freshly made piece. In this time we chose flowers design. After that, all we needed to do was wait for it to bake it the oven. The pottery will send our house during one month. After we experienced, we can did in a nearby cafe. Once it was complete.

Access

Yasakakamimachi 385-5, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0827

TEL: 075-744-6644

Open Hours

10:00 – 17:00

*Last Entry 16:30 (Light Plan) 16:00 (others)

Holidays

Open all seasons

Reservations

kyozuiko@gmail.com

By Email: please give us your

1) Lesson of your choice

2) Date

3) Time

4) Number of Participants

Tenryuji

by Haruko Ishii and Mai Kobayashi

Arashiyama is a very popular spot in Kyoto thanks to its history, nature, and clean air. Tenryuji is one of the famous temples here and was registered as a world heritage site in 1994. Kyoto has a lot of temple and shrine which was registered as a world heritage. In this article, we focus on Tenryuji.

Gate of Tenryuji

Inside the temple grounds

The temple’s garden was made by Musou Soseki. Musou Souseki is Japanese priest. He had been lived from 1275 to 1351. This garden is Japanese style and karesansui. This word means the ‘expression of water flow through rocks and sand.’  The view of this garden changes each season. In spring, you can see the view of cherry blossoms. Autumn is especially beautiful because you can see the red, green and yellow leaves. In the autumn season, are a lot of people visit Arashiyama and Tenryuji, not only oversea tourists but also Japanese people. A good time to visit is in the morning and in mid-November.

If you visit in the early morning, you can feel at one with the beautiful nature: the sound of water, the warmth of the sunrise, the natural sound of trees, the smell of the trees and so on. Try sitting on the tatami closing your eyes and feel the nature. Inside the main hall, there is a painting of a ‘cloud dragon’ on the ceiling. You can see it just on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and the special public day in spring and autumn. The painting of the dragon is very big and beautiful. If you go the inside Tenryuji, you have to pay cash. Adults (high school student and older), pay 500 yen, elementary school and junior high school students pay 300 yen, and younger children go in for free.

 

Garden of Tenryuj

 

Tatami

Akusejo of Tenryuji

An akusejo is the certificate of the temple. The meaning of certification is the evidence of visiting. You can do this at any temple, but each place has its own book design to collect them.

akusejo of Tenryuji have been starting from the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Originally, akusejo was the stamp that people could receive from a temple when they hand-copied sutras for temples and shrines. The akusejo includes the name of the temple, the date of the visit, and kakuou-houden(覚王寶殿) which means ‘to go and worship’. Kakuou (覚王)means ‘to respect Buddha’ and houden(寶殿) means the temple building where Buddhist images are enshrined for worshipping Buddha. Nowadays, people present their books to the staff of the temple who write these phrases in their own hand writing to mark their visit to the shrine.

 

Event of Tenryuji

There are event in Tenryuji. Especially I recommend to participate Zazen(坐禅). The reason why Japanese people do Zazen is finding yourself. In order to live the way you want, Japanese people practice Zazen. If you practice Zazen, you can take stresss-free life.

There are three points when you practice Zazen. First, you have to prepare your bodies. Second, ajust your posture and third, ajust your breathing. You can practice Zazen at Tenryuji every second month Sunday and 9am to 10am. You don’t need appointment and entry fee. However, in February, July and August don’t hold.

 

Getting to Tenryuji

 

There are three ways to get there. The first is by bus and takes about 30 minutes from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama Station. There are many buses going to Arashiyama, but the most direct bus is number 28. The number and the Chinese characters“嵐山”are on the front of the bus. A one-way adult ticket costs 230 yen, children are half-price, and of course, babies can ride for free. If you intend to take buses all day, you could get the all-day ticket which costs 600 yen.

The other way is that you can go by train. First, take the JR train from Kyoto Station to Saga Arashiyama Station. It takes about 20 minutes. Change here to the Randen Line and get off at Arashiyama Station. It takes about 2 minutes. If you get off Randen, you could arrive Tenryuji by going to the right.

Alternatively, you can ride the train from Kyoto Station to Shijo Station. Then, change to the Hankyu Line from Karasuma Station to Katsura Station. Finally, you have to change the train at Katsura Station to the Arashiyama Hankyu Line and get off at Arashiyama Station.

Once you arrive, there are many shops in Arashiyama and there is also the famous Togetsukyou Bridge. If you use the Hankyu Line to go to the Tenryuji, you have to cross the bridge and go straight.

 

There are many famous temples and places to enjoy in Kyoto, but if you want to feel the natural beauty of Japan, put Tenryuji on your list!

 

 

Kyo-Ningyo

by Mai Takezawa, Sayaka Terasaki, and Kanako Wakamatsu

Introduction

In Japan, there are some traditional Japanese dolls called Nihon-Ningyo. It is a generic name of dolls which are wearing Japanese-style clothing and dressing Japanese hair made in Japan. One of Nihon-Ningyo is Kyo-Ningyo, which is made in Kyoto. This doll is so interesting. Most Japanese, especially Kyoto people, take good care of it and feel proud to have it.  Today we will introduce one of the traditional Japanese dolls, Kyo-Ningyo. After introducing the doll, we would like to tell some of its history, how it is made that the different kinds of Kyo-Ningyo that are produced.

Kyo-Ningyo

What is Kyo-Ningyo?

What is Kyo-Ningyo? It’s different from Hina-Ningyo. However, they are bothe the same kind of Japanese doll. Compared with Hina-Ningyo, which is shown only in March, most Japanese people, especially Kyoto people, who have a child display Kyo-Ningyo in their house all through the year. It is a kind of Japanese doll called Nihon-Ningyo and it’s called treasure of doll in Kyoto. It has a white face, long and narrow eyes and bobbed hair, and is wearing a kimono which is made from Nishijin-ori, fabric that was developed in Kyoto. It demands detailed work without compromise to make. Each part, like head, hair, trunk, arms and legs, is made separately and then finally synthesized from many parts into a whole doll. That’s why it takes much skill to make.  The dolls are hand made by skilled craftspeople and they cost a fair bit. Japanese people use these dolls to pray for protection against ill-fortune, especially around their child. The doll can represent boys and girls to undertake their position as a scapegoat and is believed to safeguard their child’s health.

By way of a general description, Kyo-Ningyo is about 50~100 centimeters high. In fact, the height of these dolls won’t be expressed in centimeters, but express in  “ban” or “gou” (Japanese words meaning number), which is a unit that indicates each doll’s size. It is expressed like “Kyo-12” or “Kyo-11 ban”. The size of doll is distributed from number from Kyo-12 ban to Kyo-7 ban. We can find which size is bigger clearly by idea which we explain from now. For example, Kyo-11 ban is same size as elevent part of Japanese height and Kyo-10 ban is same size as tenth part of Japanese height. So, you can find easily Kyo-10ban is bigger.

History of Kyo-Ningyo

The origin of Kyo-Ningyo goes back to the Nara Era (710 – 784) or perhaps an even older time. In ancient times, most traditional dolls, such as Haniwa and Dogu were made as human’s talisman. It is considered those dolls would shoulder human’s injury and ill-fortunre. Sometimes these dolls are found intermitted under the ground instead of humans. It is gradually changed from talisman to doll, and at this point the history of Kyo-Ningyo has begun. In the Heian Era (794 – 1185), playing with dolls was a trend among the aristocratic children. That doll was the origin of Hina-Ningyo. In the Edo era (1603 – 1868), the center of government was moved to Edo, but the center of doll making was still in Kyoto. At that time, many famous puppeteers were turned out from Kyoto. It is said that the form of Kyo-Ningyo was born in the Edo era. Kyo-Ningyo was famous for a tribute gift.

How to make Kyo-Ningyo

The operation process of Kyo-Ningyo was divided into small section, such as head, hair, arms and legs and so on. There is a specialist for making each section.

1. The process starts from the head section. The craftsman paints exclusive glue on doll’s head, then incises eyes, puts rouge on and draws eyebrows.

2. Another craftsman immerses the doll’s hair along a guide line. After that, he puts up doll’s hair and puts on the hair slide.

3. Finishing the head section, the craftsman moves on to body section. By using a knife, he whittles a piece of wood into a doll.

4. The other craftsman makes essential clothing and accessories for the dolls. For example, fan, bow, wardrobe and so on.

5. The costume for Kyo-Ningyo is also made by craftsman. Nishijin-Ori is often used for costume cloth.

The most famous dollmakers impart their skills only to their apprentices.  In this way, the doll-making skills are kept secret from outsiders. This is why Kyo-Ningyo was designated as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

Kinds of Kyo-Ningyo

There are a lot of kinds of Kyo-Ningyo. We will introduce 3 kinds of them, Fushimi Ningyo, Gosho Ningyo, and Sekku Ningyo.

・Fushimi Ningyo

First, Fushimi Ningyo is a clay doll and the oldest folk toy. It was sold in front of the gate of Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine that is one of the very famous tourist attractions in Kyoto from Aduchi-Momoyma Era (1503~1603). In Hatsu-uma (that refers to the first day of the horse in February in Japan), people visit and pray at the shrine, after that, buy the doll. They enshrine it on the Kamidana that is a household Shinto altar with a charm against fires. In the end of Edo period, it was the most popular doll among Japanese people. There are about 90 kinds of clay doll now, and all of them are modeled after Fushimi Ningyo.

・Gosho Ningyo

Second is Gosho Ningyo. In the old times, the Imperial court gave the doll to the Daimyo (a feudal lord) in return for their dedicating. It was made for displaying in the middle of the Edo period, and displayed for celebrations such as marriage or childbirth. Gosho Ningyo is a plump children doll and has pure white skin. These are the greatest features of Gosho Ningyo.

Gosho-Ningyo

・Sekku Ningyo

Finally, Sekku Ningyo, which is the most familiar to Japanese people. “Sekku” means a seasonal festival in Japanese, for example, in Japan there are the doll festival in March, and children’s day in May. At this season, Japanese people display Sekku Ningyo. This contains a wish for healthy growth to their children.

Sekku-Ningyo

 

Conclusion

Kyo-Ningyo has been made since earlier than the Nara Era (A.D. 710) and has a lot of history.  After the capital city of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Edo that is called Tokyo now, Kyoto remained famous for making dolls and is still the center of doll-making now. and also Kyo-Ningyo was designated to as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry. Japanese people display Kyo-Ningyo in their houses or give it to someone to pray their children’s healthy growth. We recommend you to look at or buy Kyo-Ningyo for a souvenir. The total cost of the doll is different depending on the size, the cheapest one is about 50,000 yen and an expensive one is about 250,000 yen or more expensive. You will definitely find Kyo-Ningyo that you can like.

ART AQUARIUM

by Nami Shinkado, Sakina Nishitsuji & Shiho Tojo

The Art Aquarium is a special art exhibition held each year in Japan, and has already been experienced by a total 7.8 million people in the last 10 years. The most recent location was at the famous Nijo Castle in Kyoto, where the Restoration of Imperial Rule (Taisei Hokan) happened 150 years ago. The Art Aquarium an underwater exhibition that uses new technology such as light and images, the motif being Japanese. The main motif is koi, or Japanese goldfish, which became associated strongly with Japanese culture in the Edo period. Art Aquarium is world of Japanese art that centers around the goldfish and colored carp which express the beauty of Japan, and the traditional Japanese culture of Kyoto, including kimono, Japanese confectionery, green tea, and sake. These will be brought back to life as art and fused together with new art skills. In the exhibition, there are various kinds of goldfish, from a high-quality type that we cannot usually see to the type often seen in local festivals. The goldfish is an aquarium fish that has a history that was made by people. Art Aquarium is a very colorful and relaxing place created by Hidetomo Kimura. He makes a stage out of a World Heritage Site like Nijo Castle and attracts people by offering a unique worldview.

Hidetomo Kimura

Hidetomo Kimura was born in Tokyo in 1972.  He is an artist who combined the concepts of ‘aquarium’ with ‘art’ to create a unique exhibition by designing the interior, the music, the image, and space layout. Later, he accomplished an incredible feat by taking the Art Aquarium exhibition to Milan, where he got rave reviews for his art and design. He always tries new things all over the world. Moreover, he always does it with goldfish. He said the reason why does choses the goldfish is that it is a work of art created by hand.

Attraction of Art Aquarium

In 2017, Art Aquarium was held at Nijo-jo Castle in Kyoto. Nijo-Castle was built in 1603, during the Edo period, so it has over 400 years of history. It is recognized as a national treasure and registered as a World Heritage Site. The admission fee to the exhibit was 1,500 yen per person, with children being just 1,000 yen, while children under 4 are free of charge.

Art Aquarium is really beautiful and mystical, while being held at night in a special place normally off-limits to guests. In 2017, it was held from October 23 to December 14, from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Last entry: 9:30 PM). So, if you visit the exhibition, you can see Nijo-jo Castle with a different atmosphere than usual.

Art Aquarium uses a lot of real goldfish and colored carp. They were lit up by various colored lights, for example, red, blue, yellow, purple, green and so on. Those goldfish and colored carp express the beauty of Japan and the traditional Japanese culture of Kyoto. Art Aquarium is a very famous event for both Japanese and foreign people alike. That is because, Art Aquarium is not only lit up at night with goldfish and colored carp, but also offers visitors beautiful sounds and light projections. This performance has great appeal to guests. If you go to Nijo-jo Castle, you can enjoy seeing many goldfish and to spending a wonderful time. There are also some nearby shops and restaurants, so you can eat delicious food and drink alcohol, coffee or tea. In addition, there is a souvenir shop, where all sorts of things are sold. For example, they sell postcards of Art Aquarium, brochures, candy, accessories, and so on. Therefore, if you go to this event with friends, family or a partner, you can leave with some great memories.

About Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is a Japanese castle built in the Edo period in Nijo Town, Kyoto City. It is a flat castle in the city of Kyoto and it was a castle built by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who won the battle of Sekigahara in 1603. The castle inside Nijo castle consists of Honmaru Palace and Ninomaru Palace, each with its own garden. Ninomaru Palace is the largest, consisting of 3,300 square meters and 33 rooms. Moreover, Nijo Castle was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. Also, it is famous for being the place where Taisei Hokan occurred, when the Edo Shogunate returned governance to the Imperial Court in 1867, signifying the end of the Edo Shogunate. It was done by Yoshinobu Tokugawa, who was thr 15th generation of Tokugawa. In 2017, it was just 150 years from the year of Taisei Hokan occurred. To celebrate it, Art Aquarium was held in a grand way.

In conclusion, Art Aquarium attracts people with in various ways, from its beautiful real goldfish, to various forms of aquariums, to lighting up the space with various colors, and so on. By combining these, a magnificent performance is created. Thanks to these performances, Art Aquarium has become a popular spot for many tourists, causing a queue of people there every day there. It is fantastic!

Also, Nijo Castle is a very famous place historically, so on the day when Art Aquarium is not held, you can still visit Nijo castle. We recommend this aquarium spot and Nijo castle for everyone. We hope you will go there with the people you care most about.

Address of Nijo Castle

541, Nijojo-cho, Nijo-dori Horikawa Nishi iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Train
JR Kyoto Station→
City Bus Routes 9, 50 and 101 ⇒ Get off at Nijojo-mae station

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It is about 30 minutes from both the Kyoto-Higashi Interchange and the Kyoto-Minami Interchange on the Meishin Highway

Nishijin Brocade

by Motonari Iwamoto, Kana Kobashi & Kensuke Nagai

Nishijin Brocade is one of the traditional crafts in Kyoto.  Traditional crafts are disappearing year by year in Japan.  We have to protect traditions and pass them on to the next generation.  However, some traditional crafts are changing with the times. It is important to keep traditions, but sometimes it is not enough.  If the traditions change and evolve, people will pay attention to them and will want to know their history.  Therefore, we researched Nishijin Brocade and thought about its future.

Nishijin Brocade is a general term for Sakizome – or dyed textile goods – created in a certain region of Kyoto. Sakizome refers to the prior dying of the threads before the cloth is actually woven.  There are many different types of these textiles produced in small quantities.  Nishijin Brocade has been designated as a national traditional craft since 1976.  There are many kinds of Nishijin Brocade and they are all beautiful and produced delicately.  So, it is used in many products like Noh costume, a long outer garment, obi (traditional sash), underwear, neckties, and so on.  The name ‘Nishijin’ comes from the area of the city where the brocade was produced and traded.  It is in the northwest section of Kyoto.

History of Nishijin Brocade

As the Onin War (1467-1477), which split Japan into two parts, ended in the Muromachi era, textile craftmen who were spread out across the country returned to Kyoto.  The production of textile was resumed around this area, where it used to be a territory occupied by a western military troop led by Sozen Yamana during the War.  The textile town prospered before the war, an area known today as the northern west part of Kyoto, which had started being called Nishijin around that time.  The name of Nishi (west) – Jin (territory) was derived from the territory of the western military troop.  The site of residence that was owned by Sozen still remains at Itsutsuji-iru, Horikawa-dori in Kamogyo-ward.

Nishijin Brocade Types

There are 12 kinds of brocade that have been designated in Japan, and there are three different weaving machines to produce them. Now we will introduce some types of Nishijn Brocade.

The first is Tsuzure.  In this type, the weft is three to five times thicker than the warp, where the weft wraps around the warp.  So, the warp does not appear on the surface of it.  This way of weaving involves many small techniques, so it takes long time to finish.  The oldest it in world was made in 1580 B.C., around the same time as the 17th Egyptian dynasty period. In Japan, Sehei Izutsuya was the first person to weave it in the Edo period in Nishijin.

The second is Nukinishiki.  It is a general term of brocade that is woven with several threads and it is used to make gorgeous brocades.  Many of Nishiki brocades use Enuki that weft needs surface of the pattern. Nukinishiki represent most of brocade.  It has longest history of Japanese brocade weaves.  Its origin isn’t known for certain, but it said to have been woven from more than 1,200 years ago.

The third type is called Kasuri-ori.  It is created with some patterns by the warp and weft are resist printing in some designs.  There is the brocade of the satin weaving.  It represents a simple weaving.  At first, it began in India and then it arrived in Thailand, Burma, Java, Sumatra, Okinawa and finally to Japan.

There are five stages to the production of Nishijin Brocade.  The first is the planning. Producers think of the design and then decide on the pattern that how to make it with which colors.  The second stage is the preparation of the materials yarn sellers in white silk and dyers prepare them.  Nishijin brocades are weaved silk yarn of high quality. The third state is weaving.  Representative Nishiki-ori and Kara-ori are weaved by jacquard loom. Jacquard loom was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804.  In the old days, producers used Sorabikibata. They weaved Nishijin Brocades two people, so they can’t produce many products.  However, they began using jacquard loom, they can produce many products.  The final stage is that products are given a certificate stamp issued by the Nishijin Brocade Industrial Association.  It indicates the number of producers, kind of obi material, and structure of the fiber used.

Presence and Future of Nishiijin Brocade

In the past, the designs were drawn by hand, but today they are done on the computer.  As it became digitalized, making corrections became easier, but a lot of the work is still manual labor.  Recently, with the assistance of big designer names such as Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, the industry is starting to focus on expanding abroad as well.  The new Nishijin strategy is to create interior designs, shawls, and bags.  As the number of foreigner visitors has increased recently, many wear kimono, and in order to adapt to this, producers started making foreign sizes as well.

There is a technique of knitting, which is a very complex structure, and this technique is weaving from a thick thread into a fine thread.  The complexity of building this technique will probably be close to the top in the world.  In addition, this technique is used on space projects.

We knew about Nishijin Brocade from before, but we made sense to be throughout this research.  It is used in many products, so recently many foreign people are interested in it.   Also, Japanese young people pay attention to it because the industry is now collaborating with some famous brands.  Time moves on, so traditional crafts have to evolve with time.  And we have to study about it and tell next generation from now.  If we and traditional industry do that, traditional crafts won’t disappear and they will keep their history.  Won’t you help to protect our traditions with us?

Kurotaniwashi

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa and Kanako Wakamatsu

Have you heard of the traditional paper craft in Japan? It is called washi. Paper craft is one of the important Japanese traditional arts. There are several styles of paper craft in Japan, such as tosawashi in Kochi, obarawashi in Aichi, and narushimawashi in Iwate. Kurotaniwashi, however, is the famous paper craft of Kyoto. Kurotaniwashi is often referred to as “The most beautiful paper craft in Japan.” In this article, we will explain to you all about kurotaniwashi: its history, how it is made, and its use in popular souvenirs.

Kurotaniwashi

 

History of Kurotaniwashi

Kurotaniwashi has a very long history, starting over 800 years ago. Surviving soldiers of the Heike clan had escaped from Genzi pursuers and had hidden in a village in a mountain valley. Those surviving soldiers started papermaking as a livelihood. Since then, that village became famous for papermaking, as most of the villagers are took part in papermaking process in one form or another. The name of the village was “Kurotanimura” so the paper craft came to be named kurotaniwashi.

Originally, kurotaniwashi was used in the making of various practical tools for living, such as lights and sliding doors made with paper and wood. However, at the beginning of Edo period, kurotaniwashi began to gradually be used in not only tools for living, but also in works of art and in artistic ways. The reason is that the village was close to Kyoto and the paper was of very high quality. Some of main products of Kurotaniwashi in Edo era was related to Kyo-gohuku. Kyo-gohuku is generally point to textile product that made by silk fiber. After the Meiji period, the silk industry took off and began to develop rapidly. Therefore, the demand of the products made with silk increased. With developing of the silk industry, demand of the product for cocoon bag became high. Cocoon bag is necessary tool for raise silkworm for that silk, and that cocoon bag are mostly made by paper. As you can see, kurotaniwashi was used for art products and industrial products, but nowadays it is frequently used for daily products. For example, some post cards and letter paper are made from kurotaniwashi. In this way, the culture of using craft paper became more widely known and practiced in Japan. Eventually, kurotaniwashi came to be designated as an intangible cultural property of Kyoto prefecture. Over the years, several large fires have occurred in the village. During those fires, some of the most important historical documents were burned, so it was difficult to determine the details of its origins. Nevertheless, it is said that kurotaniwashi is the oldest type of paper that exists now in Japan.

How to Make Kurotaniwashi

Kurotaniwashi is made from Paper Mulberry (broussonetia papyrefera), a kind of tree that is called kouzo in Japanese. It grows to a height of over 3 meters. The first step is to harvest the wood. They cut down the tree without leaves in the winter. Next, they put the wood in a big barrel and steam it in a furnace for 3 hours. The part of the process is called kagomushi in Japanese. “Kago” means basket, and “Mushi” means steam in English. After that, the craftsman starts de-barking the trees, a process called kagohegi in Japanese. Hegi means ‘bark’ or ‘peel’ in English, and is a kind of local dialect. The craftsman removes the bark to expose the white tree bark inside and they cook it with alkali water for an hour. After that, put the kouzo in cold water to eliminate any remaining lye and soil. This stage of the process is called midashi in Japanese. After that, they smash the wood into pulp, similar to the way of making rice cakes from steamed rice. It is called dakai in Japanese. After dakai, the wood has now become a pulp of small fibers. They then mix the pulp with water and glue, then start creating sheets by pasting the pulp on a special wood board with a brush. This final stage is called kamitsuke in Japanese. Thus, kurotaniwashi is made by drying with natural air.

The countryside region of Kyoto Tango is very famous for a long time, because there are very suit for growing good kozo (paper mulberry) that is the main material. In addition, there are Kurotani river that has very clear water. Therefore, the water of Kurotani river is perfect for making Kurotaniwashi. People who are papermaker use only natural materials. However, people who know about the way of making Kurotaniwashi and are able to make Kurotaniwashi is decreasing, so we have to protect the way of making Kurotaniwashi that is one of the Japanese traditional.

Kurotani

 

Kurotaniwashi Souvenirs

In Kyoto there are many traditional products sold as souvenirs, some of which are made with kurotaniwashi. For example, you can buy something simple, like just kurotaniwashi paper for 600-800 yen. Other products made with kurotaniwashi are letter paper, post cards, envelops, notebooks, book covers, cushion covers, and so on. These products have a traditional texture, so they are very tough. Therefore, they are capable of long term use. They become charm of kurotaniwashi. even they become too old.

Kurotaniwashi Shops

Kyoto Washi Koubou

Kyoto Washi Koubou is a store with some souvenirs made with kurotaniwashi. You can buy online. At the site, you can learn more detail about the history of kurotaniwashi, as well as buy some traditional products online. In addition, you can make your own kurotaniwashi by designing their color or pattern.

TEL: 0773-42-9810

http://www.aspa.or.jp/washi/

Kurotaniwashi Kaikann

The “Kurotaniwashi Kaikann” is a store and studio of kurotaniwashi. It is not open Saturday and Sunday. You can buy kurotaniwashi souvenir at the store. If you reserve on the Internet before the day you go to the store, you can try making kurotaniwshi.

TEL: 0773−44−0213

Time: 9:00~16:30

E-mail: kyoto.ayabe@kurotaniwashi.jp

Making Kurotaniwashi

 

Conclusion

The paper craft that was born in Kurotani village is called kurotaniwashi, and it is the famous paper art of Kyoto. It is said that it is the most beautiful and oldest paper craft in Japan. Kurotaniwashi has a very long history from 800 years ago, and it is made by the special skill of craftsman using natural ingredients, such as the pristine Kurotani river water. You can not only buy kurotaniwashi, but also make it on your own in Kyoto. It will be a nice souvenir and may become a special memory of you in Kyoto. Why don’t you try it?

Kiyomizuyaki

by Miyabi Saeki and Natsumi Awa

Kiyomizuyaki is one of many traditional crafts in Kyoto. The word kiyomizuyaki refers to all pottery made in Kyoto. In the past, people used many different words for different kinds of pottery. Kiyomizuyaki used to only mean pottery made near Kiyomizudera-temple. However, because Kiyomizuyaki was the most famous pottery in Kyoto, gradually it became the word most used to refer to all of Kyoto’s pottery.

In Kyoto, it is almost impossible to make a clay pot out of raw material, so the potters ordered the soil from other areas, blended them independently, and created works full of individuality. Even now, they continue to make works combining a comfortable feeling with an excellent design, such as a light finish familiar to the hands, or a pattern that contains the wishes of the four season’s flowers and a lucky omen. The individuality of each artist in the pottery is strong, and it can also be said that it is a feature.

History of Kiyomizuyaki

The origin of the pottery in Kyoto is not certain. However, there is no doubt that it started a long time ago. In the first half of the 5th century, under Emperor Yuuryaku, it is written that the pottery was made in Uji City and Fushimi Ward. After that, it is said that near the current neighborhood of Gojozaka, Kyoto, which is around Kiyomizudera-temple, is where the monk Gyouki built a kiln by the emperor’s order.

In the Muromachi era (1336-1573), color painted pottery was born by a technique transmitted from the Ming dynasty. Also, when moving to the Edo period (1603~1868), tea pots were made mainly in the Higashiyama area against the backdrop of the tea ceremony’s expanding popularity. This is what is widely called Kiyomizuyaki.

Since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), production volume has increased along with the introduction of modern production methods, and it has become an important export item for Japan. In addition, as new technologies from overseas were introduced, interest in new Kiyomizuyaki was born. After the war, there was the promotion of the conversion to environmentally friendly manufacturing facilities, but Kiyomizuyaki never lost its quality and artistic nature. The tradition continues to be protected as a high-quality ceramic featuring many varieties.

Currently there are hundreds of Kiyomizuyaki gathered in Kyoto. By master artists aiming for a new design while preserving the traditions of their predecessors, even today Kiyomizuyaki has an established position as a traditional craftwork representing Japan.

How to Make Kiyomizuyaki

There are two ways to make Kiyomizuyaki. One is by hand, and the other is by using a potter’s wheel.

These are the necessary materials for when you make it:

  • Clay: nowadays in Kyoto, people use clay from Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture, because the amount of clay from Kyoto has decreased since a long time ago and it’s hard to get now. Also, the quality of clay in Shigaraki is good, and Shigaraki is near Kyoto. Therefore, people use Shigaraki clay.
  • Potter’s Wheel: only for when you make Kiyomizuyaki by using a potter’s wheel.
  • Pallet (pottery knife): to fix the shape.
  • Kiln: a stone kiln to bake the pottery
  • Glaze: to make the pottery shine.
  • Oxide: to color the pottery, for example, with gold, silver, and/or copper.

To make Kiyomizuyaki, follow the steps below:

  1. Knead: press the air out of the clay to make the quality uniform.
  2. Potter’s wheel: put the clay on the potter’s wheel and shape it into what you want by using centrifugal force. If you don’t use the potter’s wheel, shape it by hand.
  3. Polish: fix the shape by pallet when it dries a little.
  4. Bake: heat it at 600-800 degrees until it hardens for the later processes.
  5. Sketch: sketch it by using metal or pigment.
  6. Glaze: coat the pottery with glaze by using brush
  7. Bake again: heat the glazed pottery at 1200-1300 degrees.
  8. Paint: paint it by using oxide and heat it a low temperature.

How to Use Kiyomizuyaki

Before using Kiyomizu pottery, you should put it in warm water or lukewarm water. Especially when you use soil vessels that are not strongly sealed, you can reduce the invasion of tea and seasonings by passing the pottery through warm water before using it. For instruments decorated with color drawings, gold, or silver, you should avoid using equipment that becomes high in temperature such as microwave ovens. When you find dirt or mold, it should wash out if you immerse it in bleach or boil water in it. If using bleach, please wash well with dishwashing detergent afterwards.

You can use Kiyomizuyaki as a cup, a vase, or as a plate. They are good for gifts. In Japan, sometimes people give them as wedding gifts. You can buy them at souvenir shops in Kyoto city, especially near Kiyomizudera-temple. A piece of Kiyomizu pottery can cost anywhere from 1,500 to 40,000 yen. It depends on where and what you buy, as well as who made it. The more complicated the design, the more expensive it is.

If you are interested in Kiyomizuyaki, you can experience making it by yourself by taking a pottery lesson at Kiyomizugojo, near Kiyomizudera-temple. For example, you can make a cup at Zuikougama, which is a pottery studio. First, you should put on a samue – which is an apron that looks like a kimono – to keep your clothes clean. Then you can begin making Kiyomizuyaki. Usually, it is hard for beginners to start from the first step, so the staff has already done the difficult parts. You do the other parts. For example, you do the shaping. It is a little difficult to shape it how you want, but the staff helps you when you are in trouble. After that you can choose the color from dark brown, light brown, and white. Also, you can carve your name at the bottom of the cup. This course is only about shaping, but if you want, you can also sketch.

There are six courses at Zuikougama, three of them are wheel pottery lessons, and the others are painting pottery lessons. The price, time, size, shapes and color are different depending on what you choose. Choosing a course is one of the fun parts, so please enjoy it. There are many places where you can take Kiyomizuyaki lessons in Kyoto. Some of them can offer English lessons. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto, why don’t you experience it?

Zuikougama (Kiyomizudera Trial Studio)

Address: 385-5 YasakaKamimachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0827, Kyoto prefecture

Open hours: 10:00 – 17:00

*Last Entry 16:30 (Cup Plan, Painting Light) 16:00 (others)

Reservation: 075-744-6644

kyozuiko@gmail.com

*By Email: please give them your:

1) Lesson of your choice
2) Date
3) Time
4) Number of Participants

Access: From Kyoto Station, Bus number 100 or 206.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

From Shijo-Kawaramachi, Bus Number 207.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

It is located near Kiyomizu Temple, just next to the five-story pagoda “Yasaka-No-Tou” (Yasaka Pagoda).

Kyo-yuzen

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

You can see Kimono (old style Japanese clothes) all over Japan, but especially in Kyoto. Kimonos have many different patterns and colors, but do you know how many of them are actually designed? Well, the designs on kimonos are often achieved by dyeing, using a method known as Kyo-yuzen. Here, we would like to introduce some aspects of this unique dyeing method.

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Kimono

1. History of Japanese dyeing methods

2. What is Kyo-yuzen?

3. How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

4. Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

5. Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

History of Japanese dyeing methods

There have been a lot of dyeing methods used in Japan over the years, and most of these were developed from Chinese dyeing types. These were introduced to Japan several thousand years ago, and taught by people from China or Korea, they formed the basis of Japanese dyeing tradition. Before this people dyed clothes very simply by applying different types of grass, flowers or even mud. In the Asuka era, in the middle of the 6th century, there was a system developed that divided people by the color of the clothes they wore. This was to distinguish between class and status, and required greater use of color in fabrics and design. In addition, in the Nara era, in the 8th century, international trade was increased, which meant further diversification in dyeing methods were introduced and spread all over Japan, with each area developing its own style. One of the most famous of these was Kyo-yuzen, a dyeing method created in Kyoto that became hugely popular. Next, we would like to introduce this unique and beautiful, traditional Japanese item.

What is Kyo-yuzen?

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Kyo-yuzen

Kyo-yuzen is one of the dyeing methods developed in Kyoto during the Edo era of the mid to late 17th century. At that time, there was an artist in Kyoto by the name of Miyazaki Yuzensai, who had built a reputation for the exquisitely drawn folding fans he produced.  Due to this, his patrons soon began to encourage him to apply his artistic skills to designs for kimono, too, which he did.  Following this, his name quickly came to be associated with top class kimono design in Kyoto, hence the name that was given to this particular dyeing style, Kyo-yuzen.

There are some interesting features unique to Kyo-yuzen that need to be noted.  First, it is possible to apply any kind of design you want, just like drawing a picture.  Second, there are many colors and hues used in the production of Kyo-yuzen pieces.  Third, a technique using elements of glutinous rice is used to guard against colors mixing or merging together.  Finally, Kyo-yuzen is done by combining more than one dyeing method, and requires several steps to achieve a final result.  Through this, Kyo-yuzen is quite superior to other dyeing methods and has become very popular all over the world.

Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

As we said before, Kyo-yuzen is very famous globally.  For example, some events involving Japanese culture have been held recently in Paris, and there are sales booths for Kyo-yuzen products set up there.  At the booths, stainless steel mugs that are made in cooperation between Japanese Kyo-yuzen craftpersons and craftpersons in Paris are sold, and these are also available in Eigamura, a very famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto. Selling a large number of these mugs means expanding the exposure to traditional crafts of Kyoto to people in foreign countries

How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

There are two main types of dyeing method used for Kyo-yuzen. One of these is hand painting, and the other is using stencils. First, we will explain the hand painting method:

  1. Think of the design you want for the cloth and make a design pattern  
  2. Trace the design onto the cloth
  3. Apply the special glue ② to prevent the colors from mixing with each other (this is called Itomenorioki)
  4. Apply the colors to the cloth
  5. Steam the cloth
  6. Wash the cloth
  7. Steam the cloth again and stretch out the wrinkles
  8. Using a stencil, draw the design onto special Japanese paper and cut out the pattern to make the stencil
  9. Paste the cloth onto a wooden board that is called “Yuzen-Ita”
  10. Put ① onto ② and dye
  11. Same as ⑤~⑦ of hand painting method

Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

In Kyoto, visitors can actually experience Kyo-yuzen at some special studios.  Participants can experience dyeing cloth items like handkerchiefs, wrapping cloths, and so on.  One session is usually about one and a half hours long, and costs between 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen. Therefore, you can experience a traditional craft of Kyoto easily, and after the lesson, you can take the Kyo-yuzen item that you made with your own hands home with you.

Japanese dyeing methods have continued to develop over the centuries, and Kyo-yuzen especially. This method was created by combining a lot of different dyeing methods, which have been improved upon over time, and have become famous all over the world.  You can buy Kyo-yuzen items in many places in Kyoto, and you can also make them by yourself.  Why not give it a try!  

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Kyo-yuzen studio

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Kyo-yuzen items

One of the studios where you can experience Kyo-yuzen is “Marumasu-Nishimuraya” in Kyoto city.

Here’s their website:   http://www.marumasu-nishimuraya.co.jp/

You can reserve an experience time and get the access details there.