Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts
Get your hands dirty — or just view thousands of years of traditional art for free.
This tranquil museum is an opportunity to discover — and even make your own — handicrafts from all over Japan. This lesser-known museum offers up a close look into some of Kyoto’s most beautiful creations through thousands of year of history. Found in the basement floor of the Miyako Messe building near Heian Jingu Shrine, it’s an easy stop during your travels in Kyoto.
If you are interested in crafting of any kind, or just interested in how things are made, you can easily spend hours in this museum admiring the history behind each piece.
Small screens line the walls next to each display, showing in detail how the craft is made. Watch artisans make folding fans, dye kimonos in intricate patterns, or carve panels of wood for festival floats. Occasionally, these craftsmen have live performances, so you can actually see how each one is produced by artisans right in front of you.
Once a month, enjoy a live maiko stage dance set up in the museum. These geishas-in-training will perform a traditional dance from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. If you get the chance, be sure to check these special performances out, especially because they’re free of charge. When you’re done admiring the hundreds of crafts on display, take a look at the shop attached to the museum to buy plenty of souvenirs.
If you haven’t had enough crafting for one day, try it yourself. The museum also offers a yuzen (traditional method of dyeing) cloth dying experience. Choose a handkerchief, fan, t-shirt, or tote bag and try the traditional technique yourself. This one in particular is great for children, but there are always special events going on a this museum.
Want to know more about Japan’s museums? Go here.