When you hear the words “traditional Japanese crafts,” do you think of expensive art objects that exist only on a shelf? You’ll think differently once you experience them up close.
What qualifies as traditional Japanese crafts?
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) gives the “traditional craft” designation to objects made by hand using traditional materials and processes with more than 100 years of history. Today, METI has named 222 such traditional crafts across Japan.
Beautiful even to the untrained eye
Traditional Japanese crafts capture the essence of Japan’s unique beauty and cultural aesthetics—color gradation, delicate scraping, fine patterns conveying abstract concepts, and textures that take full advantage of the beauty unique to the raw materials.
These traditional Japanese crafts are not untouchable works of art, but products designed for regular use. Artisans have carefully considered the functionality of each object. Just by touching each piece, you can discover the air-tight seal of the chests, and the smooth opening and closing of folding fans.
The high quality of these crafts doesn’t always mean a steep price. You can find many of these traditional crafts for a few dollars apiece, including letter paper, small plates and bookmarks perfect to own or buy as gifts.
Gallery open 7 days a week
Traditional crafts from across Japan are displayed and sold at Tokyo’s Aoyama Square gallery. This gallery provides a rare opportunity for the public to encounter so many traditional Japanese crafts in one place. Galleries like Aoyama Square not only promote the visibility of traditional Japanese crafts, but help create a viable craft industry—the key to passing down traditional skills to the next generation.