Top 5 Must-Buy Traditional Crafts in Kyushu
Traditional crafts are items that are made hand by skilled craftsmen. There are many different kinds of crafts all over Japan, but below are the five craftworks that you should buy when you go to Kyushu.
1. Satsuma Kiriko (Kagoshima Prefecture)
Satsuma Kiriko is a glass craft that is made in Kagoshima. To make this, a piece of transparent glass is covered in red and blue glass, and then it is cut from the top to create a delicate pattern. This art began in 1851, when the feudal lord of Satsuma (now known as Kagoshima) apparently invited skilled glass craftsmen from Edo (now known as Tokyo) and asked them to make medicine bottles. The production of Satsuma Kiriko stopped thereafter due to the effects of the war and other factors, but it was eventually revived in 1985.
Major sellers: Specialized studios and gallery shops in Kagoshima City, and souvenir shops in Kagoshima Airport
Estimated price: Around 20,000 – 30,000 JPY for glass
2. Imari-yaki/Arita-yaki (Saga Prefecture)
Imari-yaki and Arita-yaki, completed within their 400-year history, are both ceramics that are representative of Japan. Said to have influenced Meissen and many other foreign porcelain wares, these crafts are characterized by their beautiful porcelain coating, colorful designs, ease of use, and excellent durability. While the crafts produced in Imari in Saga are called Imari-yaki, and those that are made in the Arita area are called Arita-yaki, there are really no differences stemming from their production area as they use the same raw materials and adopt the same manufacturing method. These crafts are affectionately known as “Imari” abroad.
Major sellers: Shops in Imari City and Arita Town, etc.
Estimated price: Around 3,000 JPY for a teacup, etc.
3. Hakata-ori (Fukuoka Prefecture)
Hakata-ori is a kind of silk fabric that is made in the Hakata area of Fukuoka City in Fukuoka. It is characterized by its hard, springy texture and ribbed fabric on the surface that is achieved by tightly weaving thin warps with thick wefts. This silk fabric is mainly used on straps and bags, among others. It is said to have begun at the end of the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573), but it flourished during and after the Azuchi-Momoyama era (1568 – 1600).
Major sellers: Speciality shops and gallery shops in Fukuoka City, and souvenir shops in Hakata Station, etc.
Estimated price: Around 2,000 – 3,000 JPY for a bag and business card case
4. Nagasaki Vidro (Nagasaki Prefecture)
Nagasaki Vidro is the art of making glass toys, an art that was taught to Nagasaki Prefecture. The bottom of this glass is shaped like a thin flask and when you put it to your mouth and blow into it, the bottom will become recessed and you will hear a sound like “popin popin”. That very sound led to this glass now being commonly known as Poppen in Nagasaki. Their delicate and beautifully colored designs, along with their adorable appearance, will make them look like works of art even when they are just used as decoration, so they are the perfect souvenir. Be careful when carrying them home, though, because they are really fragile and break easily.
Major sellers: Studios and souvenir shops in Nagasaki City, etc.
Estimated price: Around 800 – 1,000 JPY
5. Yamaga-gasa (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Yamaga-gasa is a traditional Japanese umbrella whose art was passed on to Yamaga City in Kumamoto Prefecture. The production of Yamaga-gasa started to thrive in this area during the Meiji era (1868 – 1912), with the area boasting the largest output in Western Japan at that time. Production temporarily ceased after the war, but was revived anew in recent years. Characterized by its delicate structure that comes from having all the processes in its creation done by hand, it has been attracting buyers with its a beautiful frame structure that radially expands, warm feeling from the use of washi (Japanese paper), and colorful designs. It is basically made to order in specialized studios.
For a souvenir, go ahead and choose any of these beautiful crafts that use traditional Japanese techniques.
*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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