December 17, 2009
by miho hattori
Do you know how many traditional crafts are practiced in Kyoto? Japan’s ancient capital has a rich historical culture and a wealth of traditions, so there are so many kinds of traditional crafts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a single great place where you could see, feel and learn about all of these crafts in Kyoto? Well, a place called Fureaikan (Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts) will fulfill your wishes and it’s free! You must enjoy here the nature of craftsmanship and touch Kyoto’s historic culture. Fureaikan also has various traditional items which you can handle or buy.
Let’s go to Fureaikan! J
There are six areas in Fureaikan:
Various types of traditional handicrafts are introduced through the displaying of actual craftworks. You can watch the processing of these crafts here and even in the library, but video soundtracks are in Japanese only. Moreover, if you would like to purchase one of the exhibited craftworks, you can do so.
Historical high-valued works are displayed and organized into specific time periods.
This corner is for exhibitions, active craft art and demonstrative presentations. Young artists release their new works, showing us their fresh ideas.
There are many books and videos covering a wide range of literature, design and history. Although most texts are written in Japanese, you can still learn through the many illustrations and photos. In addition, you can borrow some books.
You can experience creating your original traditional handiworks. It will certainly become your good memory!
«A report about handicraft classes will appear in my next article. Check it out!
Museum shop “KYO-SHION”
This shop sells many goods of Kyoto traditional crafts at reasonable prices. These are suitable mementos of your visit to Kyoto, so how about including them among your souvenir purchases?
Now, let me introduce some traditional crafts of Kyoto…
The cultural pursuit in which people enjoy burning incense for making a good mood came from China 1300 years ago. It quickly became popular among Japan’s nobility. Now the culture has developed as “Koudo” and several products are made with different aromas for different occasions. It is likely that you can enjoy the elegant fragrance of “Kunko”!
The weaving industry in Kyoto began between the 5th and 6th centuries. The name Nishijin came from the Nishijin district in Kyoto where many weavers built their workplaces. Using dyed yarns woven into beautiful brocades, Nishijin weavers use traditional skills, and are continually promoting new methods. At present, it is said to that there are no textiles which weavers cannot make by Nishijin techniques.
You can also see the making of Nishijin-Ori and twelve beautiful typical techniques.
“Tsuzure-ori”, “Futsu”, “Tatenishiki”, “Mojiri-ori”, “Velvet”, “Nuki-nishiki” and so on. You can see the samples in Fureaikan.
Yuzensai Miyazaki developed Kyo yuzen silk, with new hand painting and dyeing techniques, in the latter half of the 17th century. So this dye technique was named “yuzen” for him. Nowadays kyo yuzen has two basic methods; one is hand dyeing and the other is stencil-dyeing. The stencil dyeing was developed by Jisuke Hirose during the early Meiji period (1870s). This technique is a way to dye silk using a cutout paper pattern. In contrast with stencil dyeing, hand dyeing is a technique which uses some brushes. In Fureaikan, you can also see and touch five items used for producing kyo-yuzen.
You can download free audio guidance not only in English but also in French or Chinese on the museum’s website. If you don’t have a portable audio player, don’t worry! You just need to fill out a form, show your ID card and pay 1000 yen as a deposit, and you can borrow a player at Fureaikan. And when you finish, you return it and get back your deposit money. When you arrive at Fureaikan’s entrance, you will find a desk with an information clerk who can help you. If there is no information clerk, please dial 512 on a phone placed on the desk.
Where is Fureaikan? !
9-1, Seishoji-cho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto (Miyakomesse B1F)
9:00~17:00 (Admission until 16:30)
«No smoking, no eating and drinking and no camera!
«From JR Kyoto Station
Bus: Take city bus No.5 to “Kyoto Kaikan mae/Bijutsu-kan mae” bus stop, or bus No. 206 to the Higashiyama-Nijo bus stop.
Subway: Take the Karasuma Line to Karasuma-Oike station and there, change subway lines to the Tozai Line heading east; get off at Higashiyama Station.
Bus: City bus Nos. 5, 32 or 46 to Kyoto Kaikan mae/bijutsu-kan mae bus stop or bus No. 31, 201 or 203 to Higashiyama-Nijo bus stop
«From Sanjo Keihan
Bus: Take city bus No. 5 to Kyoto kaikan mae/bijutsukan mae bus stop
Subway: Take the Tozai Line to Higashiyama Station
If you have some spare time, it is good to walk around the neighborhood surrounding Fureaikan in autumn. You can see beautiful autumn colors and some very cute ducks such as in this picture. This great spot may become your favorite place in Kyoto!