Photo By: Mimi Dietderich
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Utsunomiya
Population
2,004,787

Dragon Art Kosyuya

The best souvenirs have dragons.

What’s better than watching someone create live art? Getting to take it home afterward… Once you’re done exploring Nikko’s endless bounds of natural beauty and visiting Nikko Toshogu Shrine, don’t miss the city’s most unique souvenir shop, Dragon Art Kosyuya.

Surrounded in tradition and mythology, the dragon paintings — sure to bring you fortune — are completed in just “one stroke” at the shop. While this style of art isn’t exclusive to Dragon Art Kosyuya, it is rare across Japan and the quality of the paintings go beyond a touristy trinket.

Photo by: coleewert A “one-stroke” dragon.

Dragon Art Kosyuya is a family-owned business that specializes in the mesmerizing art technique known as hitofude ryuu (one stroke dragon). Using sumi (black calligraphy ink) and a plethora of vibrantly colored paints, the artist forms the body of the dragon with one single brush stroke. With quick-and-precise movements developed over years of experience, a detailed and lifelike serpent is created. Starting from the head, the dragon begins to take shape, but its the large, sweeping stroke of the body that brings the image to life.

Each painting is completely customizable and takes only 15 minutes. Visitors can choose the position of the dragon (from a selected list of 24 examples) as well as the colors and kanji characters penned by the artist.

Photo by: Dragon Art Kosyuya A painting from Dragon Art Kosyuya.

Why a dragon?

In Eastern Asian culture, dragons are associated with water, meaning that they are connected to harvest and prosperity. This is most notable at shrine and temple temizuya (purification fountains) that are frequently decorated by stone or metal dragons.

Dragons also have a strong presence in Buddhism and are seen as protectors. However, Buddha isn’t the only deity connected to dragons. Benzaiten, one of the seven lucky gods, is the goddess of all things that flow including music, literature and water. She is also a descendant of a dragon and married a sea dragon.

Know before you go

Dragon Art Kosyuya

Photo by: Mimi Dietderich The Dragon Art Kosyuya shopfront.

Don’t worry about your Japanese language skills as this studio provides a binder will all your options clearly laid out for you and will take the time to assist as best as they can to make sure that you get exactly what you’re looking for. Dragon scrolls come in three different sizes: 25×50 cm, 30×60 cm, and 37×70 cm and prices start at ¥2,500. If you’re visiting Japan on vacation, Dragon Art Kosyuya will take extra care in packaging your scroll for no extra charge.

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Things To Know

Hours

Dragon Art Kosyuya is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Thursdays.

Details

The Japanese name of the shop is 一筆龍晄秋家(ひとふでりゅうこうしゅうや). The website (in Japanese): http://www.kousyuuya.com

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒321-1403 Tochigi-ken, Nikkō-shi, Shimohatsuishimachi, 804 一筆龍晄秋家

By train

From Shinjuku station take JR Nikko-Kinugawa line to Shimo-Imaichi station (~1.5 hours) and then take the Tobu-Nikko line for two stops (8 min) to Tobu-Nikko station. From Tobu-Nikko station, walk 14 minutes to destination.

By car

From Shinjuku station take the highway for two hours and 30 minutes to the destination.

Where To Stay

sumica apartments
  • Kamihatsuishi-machi 1011 Nikko-Shi, Tochigi 321-1413
  • 9.7/10
  • 0.4 km
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Nikko Hoshino Yado
  • Kamihatsuishi-cho 1115 Nikko-Shi, Tochigi 321-1401
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.4 km
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Nikko Tokinoyuu
  • Kamihatsuishi-machi 1030 Nikko-Shi, Tochigi 321-1401
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.4 km
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Nikkorisou Backpackers
  • Kamihatsuishimachi 1107 Nikko-Shi, Tochigi 321-1401
  • 9/10
  • 0.5 km
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