We had a bit of an unexpected find though when we went to Kyoto that we really enjoyed, which was the Kyoto Handicraft Center.
If you like hands on craft type activities or just learning a bit more about Japanese culture, this is the place for you.
We took a look at the list of experiences outlined on their website, and we decided on painting a clay bell doll each. We thought that we could use them as ornaments on our Christmas tree!
When we sat down to start the class, there were a range of pre made clay bell dolls on the table, to get a bit of an idea of exactly what route you could take with painting them. Honestly the options are only as limited as your imagination - you could paint whatever your heart desires.
You start off with a plain white clay bell, like you can see in the picture below. There's some indentations for the "face" part, so you can see the ridges as a rough outline of where to paint.
I myself painted a little geisha looking doll, but Mike really was the star of the show with his creative abilities - he went all out and tried to recreate a Totoro instead of the more traditional looking pieces!
And you can bet he was pretty excited with how it turned out, too (if you couldn't tell by his expression in the below picture - he says he was just trying to be like Totoro!)
The prices for the crafts vary depending on what you choose -- but other than the clay bell dolls there are things like folding fan painting, woodblock printing, and making Japanese incense bags, amongst others! There is a reservation form on their website in English, too - so booking is a breeze!
Getting to the Handicraft Center is easy - it's right across from Heian Jingu Shrine so you can do a couple of really cool things in a short amount of time!