Oct. 02, 2018 UPDATE
Traditional handicrafts from Kyoto
Part 1

An introduction to the traditional crafts of Kyoto

Kyoto is famous for its handicrafts. This is something that you hear often in Japan, but have you ever stopped to consider why this is? The story of Kyoto and handicrafts actually goes back to the Heian period, around 1,000 years ago, when the capital of Japan was moved from Nara to Kyoto. As Kyoto became the capital, many court nobles moved to Kyoto with the emperor, and so the demand for handicrafts in Kyoto increased greatly, leading to the many styles flourishing up to this day.

So the growth of handicrafts in Kyoto was supported by the emperor, court, and the many temples of Kyoto. Some of the most famous types of handicrafts in Kyoto are Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, Kyo-shikki, Kyo-sashimono, Kyo-bamboo crafts, Kyo-zogan, and Kyo-ningyo.

You can read more about pottery in part three of this feature article, but here is a bit more about the other handicrafts:
Kyo-shikki, also known as Kyo-lacquerware, is a type of lacquerware made in Kyoto. The specialty of Kyo-shikki is in their thinness and simple designs. The simpleness of the designs is because Kyo-shikki was usually used in tea ceremonies, so they were influenced by the ideas of wabi and sabi (acceptance of transience and imperfection).
Kyo-sashimino is wood crafts which are made by joining wood without the use of nails. This technique is also called wood coining, and there is a special kind of elegance to furniture made using this technique, which is also used in shrines and court buildings. These days you can even get Kyo-sashimono champagne coolers.
Kyo-bamboo crafts
The bamboo crafts of Kyoto are incredibly delicate, often ornate. There are many shops in Kyoto selling bamboo crafts, usually for quite salty prices, as making these ornate bamboo works requires a painstaking effort.
Kyo-zogan means zogan inlay handicrafts from Kyoto, which are usually of the type nunome-zogan, which is made by cutting the surface of metal and then pounding gold and other metals to form a pattern.
Dolls made in Kyoto, aptly called Kyo-ningyo (Kyoto-dolls). These types of dolls can often be seen displayed during Hina Matsuri, an event for young girls. These dolls were (and are) thought to bring good luck and protect children.

You can find some very interesting clay dolls around Fushimi Shrine known as Fushimi dolls, and these are sometimes priced not that expensively too, so they’re nice souvenirs to get from Kyoto.

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