Kyoto Handicraft Center
The Kyoto Handicraft Center is a one-stop shopping solution for visitors in Japan. This seven story building contains the finest examples of Japanese crafts from all over the island. Tours begin at the seventh floor and work their way down. The seventh floor presents crafts manufactured and distributed by Amita Corporation. Their products include Damascene, Cloisonné, and pearls. This floor focuses primarily upon the Damascene boxes and plates, and includes a view of the craftsmen's work area. The photo to the left shows one such craftsman laboring on a Damascene box, while the photo to the right shows one of the many showcases featuring the finished products.
The sixth floor has more of a hands-on motif, as it is the area which houses the handicraft center classes, as well as the cafeteria. Classes are offered in Cloisonné making, woodblock printing, and doll making, all traditional Japanese crafts passed down from generation to generation. The photo to the left is an example of one of the simpler dolls on display, while the photo to the left shows some of the other crafts created in the classes; the display is a bit thin, as we went during the winter months when business is understandably slow. The fifth floor also offers a buffet featuring all of your favorite Japanese dishes, including udon noodles, tempura, sushi, and the ubiquitous green tea. A great place to fuel up before you shop till you drop!
The fifth floor is shared by Amita Corporation and Heian Cloisonné Company. The former has both Damascene creations and kimonos on display, while the latter has a very elaborate display of their pottery. The photo to the left shows one of the Cloisonné pottery displays, while the photo to the right shows a scene painted on paper made from the bark of the mulberry tree.
The fourth floor is host to an eclectic variety of crafts. Nearly half of the floor space is occupied by the Kyoto Silk Company; the company has a full range of scarves, handkerchiefs, headbands and even kites, as shown in the photo to the lower right. The kimonos shown in the photo to the left are silk and are made by the Kyoto Kimono Company. Occupying one wall of the fourth floor (and a bit out of character with the rest of the handicrafts on the floor) is an impressive selection of ceremonial swords (photo the right). The fourth floor also hosts the workshops of the Nakayama Doll Manufacturing Company, and visitors can watch the craftsman putting the finishing touches on the porcelain dolls. The dolls, dressed in silk, reflect traditional Japanese values; the dolls normally portray women in Geisha and Kabuki costumes, as in the showcase shown in the photo below to the left. This particular company has been creating these dolls for 350 years
The third floor is devoted to one of the most beautiful Japanese crafts, printing. The Uchida Art Company, which occupies the bottom three floors of the Kyoto Handicraft center. The third floor focuses exclusively on woodblock printing, and has an area where you can watch the craftsman at work. (photo to the left) The prints themselves range from postcard to wall-sized hangings, and are in color as well as black and white. The photo to the right shows some examples of the finished prints.
The second floor also features the block printing technique, but this time it is used to make the larger scrolls which are a common decoration in Japanese homes. The photo to the left shows the small framed floral prints, while the photo to the right shows the larger wall-hanging scrolls that feature traditional landscapes.
The first floor, shared by Uchida Art Company and Amita Corporation, feature the painted screens of the former, and the pearls of the latter. The pearl display cases, pictured in the photos to the right and the left, make an impressive introduction to the Kyoto Handicraft Center.
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