May. 23, 2017 UPDATE

Experience the traditional crafts of Kyoto! Top 5 best experiences

I have five cultural experiences in Kyoto that I recommend to everyone!

Kyoto has a strong tradition of artisanship; even to this day many of Kyoto’s most famous products are handmade. From traditional Japanese sweets and Kyo-yuzen kimono dying technique, all the way to tea ceremonies, all of these traditional, Japanese experiences are close at hand in Kyoto. If you come all the way to Kyoto, I would like to recommend you experience some of this culture first hand by joining one of these five cultural experiences!

1Kumihimo Practice Workshop: Adachi Kumihimokan

Kumihimo has been in the news lately especially because it was featured in the anime movie Your Name. In Kumihimo you use embroidery thread to make these cute braids, and the tradition has a history that started in the Heian period. Adachi Kumihimokan is right by the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and here you can try your hand at kumihimo and make all kinds of accessories like hair ornaments, bracelets, and cell phone straps.

 You can choose the color of the string. 

There is a weight inside the roll of string which comes handy when doing kumihimo by using this special kumihimo-pedal. This may look to be difficult, but it is actually very simple, and at the classroom, you also have a teacher who will gently guide you.

In about an hour, you will have a cute bracelet like this in your hands! Things you make yourself feel more special, right?

Kumihimo has a history of over 1000 years. Accessories you can buy at shops are also nice, but things you make yourself have special warmth to them, and they are sure to remain in your memory for long.

Kumihimo Practice Workshop : Adachi kumihimokan

Imperial Palace & Teramachi / Central Kyoto Area
Our Reviews

2Tea Ceremony Room Ju-An

Kyoto equals tea ceremony. Now matcha sweets are getting more and more popular, but actually making the tea yourself at a tea ceremony is also something I find interesting. Tea Ceremony Room Ju-An is a place where you can experience an authentic tea ceremony in a Japanese tatami room, just by Kyoto Station. 

The cups and tools are all used in real tea ceremonies.

You can see the teacher stir matcha tea up close. Another special point about Ju-An is that their teachers can speak English, so they can tell you about the history and manners related to tea ceremony.  

The matcha you drink after learning about tea ceremony tastes special. There are also rules about how you should drink the tea, but the teachers will guide you through them. You can learn a lot about Japanese culture by learning about tea ceremony. 

Tea Ceremony Room Ju-An

Kyoto Station / Central Kyoto Area
Our Reviews

3Kanshundo Japanese Confectionery Class

Traditional Japanese sweets are representative of traditional Japanese culture. Especially in Kyoto there are many old and established Japanese sweets shops that value their age-old methods of making these sweets. Japanese sweets in Kyoto not only taste good, but they also look good. At one of the old and established Japanese sweets shops, Kanshundo, you can learn how to make Japanese sweets straight from an artisan. 

You can make seasonal sweets here. They have a guide pamphlet in English, Chinese, and Korean, so it is easy to take part even if you don’t speak Japanese. 

You can use the special Japanese sweets tools and round up the sweets, press patterns on them… doing all of these minute things properly is difficult, and you will learn to truly appreciate the skill of the artisans. 

Now we have a cute pink Japanese sweet! You can also take the Japanese sweets home with you, so they can become souvenirs, you can give them to your family or friends to boast about your sweets-making skills, and they are sure to become a nice memento of your trip to Kyoto! 

Kanshundo Japanese Confectionery Class

Gion & Kiyomizu Temple / Central Kyoto Area
Our Reviews

4Try your hand at Japanese cooking at Cooking Sun

If you want to try your hand at traditional Japanese home cooking, Cooking Sun in Karasuma is my recommendation!

This cooking class is aimed at foreign visitors, and they teach using recipes made by professionals, and the class is very popular.  

They start from the basics and teach you all you want to know from Japanese cooking, from dashimaki omelets and miso soup, all the way to the more difficult sushi rolls and tempura. The class sizes are small, so everyone gets to try their hand at Japanese cooking. 

Last its time to eat the dishes made during the class. This is a chance to learn about the depth and fun of Japanese cooking in a chic, traditional machiya townhouse in a feel at home atmosphere.

Cooking Sun

Downtown / Central Kyoto Area
Our Reviews

5Marumasu-Nishimuraya: Yuzen dyeing experience 

The Kyo-yuzen way of dyeing kimonos is an old traditional craft of Kyoto. The traditional way of making it is to first draw a picture on a piece of cloth, then dye it, and then steep it into the waters of the Kamo River. You can experience this old traditional way of Kyo-yuzen at Marumasu-NIshimuraya.  

You use a pattern paper and a brush to paint the colors, in a process known as surikomi. You can choose the paper and color you like, so you can make your own, one and only, Kyo-yuzen artwork. At Marumasu-Nishimuraya you can choose from three courses, from the easy quick one to a real authentic yuzen-experience.  

Here we have a cute tumbler with a maiko on it! Even the colors are Kyoto-like and elegant. 

Besides the tumbler, you can try your hand at many other things like t-shirts, handkerchiefs, bags, and even tapestries, so there are really many products you can try your hand at! These should make great gifts for your family and friends too.

Kyo-yuzen standard course:Marumasu-Nishimuraya

Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu / Central Kyoto Area
Our Reviews
Erika[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ] STAFF DETAIL
These cultural experiences are all things that are old and well established in Japan. These cultural experiences are all authentic but easy to take part in! I hope this will become a special Kyoto-like experience for you, and I’m sure you will be amazed by the knowledge and technique the Japanese artisans of past had.
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Do Central Kyoto Area

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