Get Crafty: Make It in Nara
One of the treasures of Nara is its rich craft heritage. Some of the world’s leading craftspeople work here without fanfare, and many of the skills have been handed down unchanged for 1300 years. Perhaps that is the secret to the high quality and international recognition: they simply don’t cut corners.
You can try your hand at many traditional crafts, for an experience you won’t forget. Make a unique keepsake while you learn first-hand what makes Nara’s crafts so special.
Deep in the mountains of Yoshino, the Fukunishi family are world famous for making washi paper, using locally grown mulberry bark and water from the Yoshino River. They offer classes with advanced notice; if you are staying in the area, ask your ryokan to book for you.
If you can speak a little Japanese or have a Japanese friend with you, you can try making your own calligraphy brush, from carving the handle to trimming and assembling the brush hairs. The whole process takes 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the brush.
If you've tried a traditional tea ceremony, why not learn to make the sweets that go with it? This famous wagashi shop offers classes once a month and has English speaking staff to help.
They have been making bamboo tea whisks (chasen) in Takayama for 500 years. Many of the local workshops offer classes and on weekends you can see free demonstrations of whisk making and try making matcha tea.
There is a different craft or cultural activity every day at centrally located Nara Visitor Center & Inn. You can try your hand at origami, calligraphy, tea ceremony or chigiri-e paper art. There are usually two classes each afternoon, which are free or for a small fee and you don’t need to book. Check their website for the monthly craft schedule.