July 10, 2012
by Maiko Fukuoka
Yanagiya Kibako is unique Kyoto-based shop, selling a variety of handmade wooden boxes. The shop is near the famous Ryoanji Temple, only a few minutes on foot from Ryoanji Station on the RanDen Line. It is run by its owner, Hideyuki Ito, and his father. The shop was founded in 1992. Mr. Ito has been in business since 2009. Before then, his father was its owner.
Yanagiya Kibako is not large, but it leads you to pay attention because of its simplicity and fashionable outward appearance. Many tourists actually drop in at the shop. If you go inside, you will feel more and more like you are in Japan, seeing the owner making boxes. You will never experience such a valuable Japanese atmosphere in the other shops.
Wooden Boxes from Yanagiya Kibako
Yanagiya Kibako makes and sells boxes for two different types of customers. The first type of customers is other companies who use the wooden boxes to package their own goods, such as Japanese-style confectionery, clothes, and so on. Some companies like to use wood for their packaging because wood has effects on deodorization and keeping freshness. In this way, not only companies, but also individuals can order boxes for the purpose of packaging or storing goods. The other type of customers is tourists who go to Ryoanji Temple and who are looking to buy souvenirs. To attract such tourists, the owner has placed a lot of fashionable and chic boxes at the entrance of the shop. The boxes are made of used wood. They cost anywhere from 300 to 1,500 yen, so they are affordable and attractive as souvenirs.
All of the wooden boxes are made of Japanese cedar. The owner insists on using Japanese cedar, because it is unique to Japan. In addition, there is plenty of Japanese cedar available. Many people think that we must not use trees in order to conserve them, but what is actually more important is to stop deforestation based on human greed. We should replenish trees by using the old ones and planting new trees at the same time. In this way, the owner is very supportive of using Japanese cedar.
About the Owner
The owner, Hideyuki Ito, took over his father’s shop in 2009. He has been helping his father to make wooden boxes since he was a child, intending to take over the shop from his father. However, when he was old enough work, he had to look deep into himself to decide if that was the right path. So Mr. Ito decided to take charge of the shop only, after he had worked for a fashion company, gotten married, and settled down.
Mr. Ito is dedicated to just making wooden boxes. It seems that he can make anything with Japanese cedar. However, he is never willing to make anything else. The reason is that the boxes have ultimate utility. He thinks that there is plenty of demand for wooden boxes as long as there are any goods.
Inside the shop, the air is saturated with scent of Japanese cedar. You will be satisfied with the shop as soon as you go inside. Please go to Yanagiya Kibako and you will see and feel beyond what is written here.