【Press Release】Find Tradition and Culture Outside of the Onsen
In Kinosaki Onsen, traditional Japanese culture can be found around every corner, including in the town’s long withstanding straw craft. This straw craft, known as mugiwara zaiku in Japanese, is regarded as a unique traditional handicraft with its vibrant colors and intricate patterns. It is said that in mid-Edo era (around 1720 AD), a craftsman named Hanhichi from the Inshuu area (what is now Tottori Prefecture) came to stay in Kinosaki Onsen. To make money to pay for his lodging expenses, Hanhichi sold bamboo flutes and spinning tops decorated with colored straw.
After this, the straw craft was also used to decorate chests, boxes, and wooden prayer plaques. After the Meiji period began, famous artists visited Kinosaki and drew sketches for the straw craft’s designs, and thus straw craft gained popularity as an expensive, popular, and unparalleled handicraft. Today, the straw is flattened, dyed, and placed on paulownia boxes, colored paper, spinning tops, and clay bells. Kinosaki Onsen is proud to be the only place in Japan which continues the traditional production of straw craft while preserving the original skills and techniques of the past.
Visitors to Kinosaki Onsen can book the Straw Craft Activity and Craftsman Workshop Tour (with English guide) to observe the fascinating and complex straw craft process, learn about its history, and get a private tour of the craftsman’s workshop at the Kamiya Mingei Straw Craft Shop. Guests make their own original straw craft design on a small box to keep as a lovely souvenir. With the help of the craftsman and an English-speaking guide, participants will get to trim, position, and glue delicate pieces of straw into a beautifully intricate patterned design.
For a shorter, cheaper option, visitors to Kinosaki Onsen can try decorating small fans, keychains, and postcards at the Kinosaki Straw Craft Museum. They have a handy workshop guide written in English, so you can understand every step of the process and get the most out of the experience!
The Kinosaki Straw Craft Museum houses many traditional straw craft works dating back to the mid-1700s, so visitors can see various traditional designs and patterns. There is also a video one can watch inside the museum, which shows the history and process of making this craft, all with English subtitles. Create something that is unique to the area.