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Ito Kumihimoten

Top 5 Traditional Crafts from Kyoto that You Must Get Your Hands On

Kyoto, which boasts of a lengthy history and a number of traditions, offers many wonderful crafts created by skilled craftsmen. This article introduces 5 amazing products that you should consider checking out.

1. Ito Kumihimoten's Strings

Ito Kumihimoten is the only string-making specialty store in Japan. It boasts of an almost 200-year history! The store handles a variety of strings, such as the "kumihimo" (braid), which is a combination of strings put together in a bundle, and the "sanadahimo" (woven string), which puts together vertical and horizontal strings at a right angle. They also produce strings for various things and occasions, such as tea ceremonies, garments for Noh theater, and displayed artwork. You may find a variety of ready-made strings at the store, which can be cut to the length you desire. You can also find key chains that can be used on their own.

Examples of Prices:
Edo String/Thin (Silk)/Thickness: Approx. 2.5 – 3mm/Price for 1 Piece: Starts from 335 JPY (incl. tax)
Buddha Jade Strap: 1,296 JPY (incl. tax)

Ito Kumihimoten

Ito Kumihimoten

1. Ito Kumihimoten's Strings

Rokkaku Hokuseikado, Teramachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 京都府京都市中京区寺町六角北西角

2. Kochosai's Bamboo Ware

Next up is Kochosai – a store that specializes in bamboo items – which has been operating since 1898. Kochosai produces practical yet beautiful and detailed products using bamboo, which is a material that has long been loved by Japanese people. Aside from kitchen goods and cutlery, you can also find fancy reed diffusers to decorate your interior.

Example of Prices:
Minotake Hera: 2,376 JPY (incl. tax)
Reed Diffusor: 8,640 JPY (incl. tax)

2. Kochosai's Bamboo Ware

Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto 1F, 74 Nakajima-cho, Sanjo-dori, Kawaramachi Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 京都府京都市中京区三条通河原町東入ル中島町74 ロイヤルパークホテル ザ 京都1F

3. Karamaru's Kyoto-style Paper

This next shop on the list handles Kyoto-style Japanese paper, which were used long ago by nobility and generals, as well as tea ceremony masters, to write letters and poems, as well as for sliding doors and wallpaper. Their paper is made in a traditional way, which involves painting on the designs using woodblocks, and then laying out the patterns one by one on the Japanese paper. This shop also specializes in other crafts created by the master. Some recommendations include the modern, geometrical "Karakami" wall panel, which costs 10,800 JPY (excl. tax), as well as the KARABACO series (starts from 6,600 JPY (excl. tax)), which can be used as storage.
They have a variety of hands-on classes, such as Karakami post card making and placing patterns on the paper using authentic woodblocks, as well as a tour of how they create different types of paper (reservation required). The guide only speaks Japanese, but visitors from other countries are welcome to join as well. This store is currently preparing staff to be able to handle customers in English.

Kyo Karami Maruni

Kyo Karami Maruni

3. Karamaru's Kyoto-style Paper

462 Senshoji-cho, Sakai-cho Higashi-iru, Takatsuji-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 京都府京都市下京区高辻通堺町東入ル泉正寺町462

4. Aritsugu's Katanas

Aritsugu is a famous store that first started out with swordsmithing. It boasts of an over 450-year history, and currently handles all types of cutlery, with the most popular product being knives. You can find over 400 types of knives here, and each one reflects light beautifully. Please try out their excellently designed products that come in various shapes and sizes. They are not just popular with the locals – they receive good reviews from foreigners as well!

4. Aritsugu's Katanas

Nishiki-koji Kogo-machi Nishi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 京都府京都市中京区錦小路通御幸町西入ル

5. Miyawaki Baisenan's Fans

Miyawaki Baisenan has specialized in the production of fans since 1823. Every part of these Kyoto-style fans – from the exterior and backbone, up to the finishing – were created by the members of the Kyoto Cooperative Association of Folding Fans. This traditional craft is considered a gem for its combination of practicality and aesthetic, which can be seen in the texture, the way the fan opens, the weight, and its use. They come in a variety of original designs, most of which were hand-drawn. Furthermore, the store is known for its ceiling, which has the patterns like that of a folding fan that were drawn by Japanese artists. This type of atmosphere is one of the charm points of the store.

Examples of Prices: Ryoma Fan Matcha (Kuro-taki) (4,320 JPY (incl. tax)), etc.

5. Miyawaki Baisenan's Fans

80-3 Oguro-cho, Rokkaku-dori Tomino-koji Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 京都府京都市中京区六角通富小路東入ル 大黒町80-3

One of the good things about these high-quality crafts is their longevity, especially if you take care of them. Please consider them as souvenirs when visiting Kyoto!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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