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.
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.
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
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.