In this article I will tell you guys some amazing places to experience Japanese craftmanship by yourself. Although, Tokyo has a lot to offer in term of sightseeing, some travelers prefer hands on activities for a nice change of pace. I definitely agree and therefore I have combined the three most interesting workshops I have found and will review them down below to hopefully inspire you to try them yourself.
The Tsumami Zaiku is the traditional craft to making the beautiful ornamental hairpins 'Kanzashi' worn by Geisha to enhance the beauty of their kimono's. The pieces are made using small square cloths and folded by careful precision to form a beautiful hairpiece.
At Tsumamido shop, located in Asakusabashi, you can emerge yourself in the beauty of the crafted hairpieces, but for the more creative traveller, you can also try to make them yourself.
You can made different accessories like hairpins, charms, magnets etc.
English instructors are available on reservation. The workshop costs 3800 yen and takes about 2 hours.
Opening hours: 11:00-6:00 Tuesday-Saturday
Address: 3-20-16, Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0053
How to get there: 7 minute walk rom JR Asakusabashi station exit East.
More information: http://tsumami-do.com
English language available: Yes!
Ganso Shokushin Sample-ya
One of the things I loved most about Japan are the food sample displays they have at restaurants. Restaurants display the menu with food samples, which make it easier for foreigners (not the original intention though I think) to choose what too eat and to select the right restaurant to dine. I loved these food samples and what I loved even more, is that you can buy the food samples yourself at the famous: Kappabashi street in Asakusa. USB sticks designed as little sushi, broccoli hairpins, you will find it all in Kappabashi
However, it gets even better. You are given a chance to make your own food samples during a workshop.
Ganso Shokushin Sample-ya offers this type of workshop. The type of sample differs according to the time of the year. The workshop takes around 2 hours, but requires some Japanese, since no English is spoken.
If you do not want to do the workshop, you can also buy yourself a DIY replica food kit to make yourself. (around 1700 yen)
Address: 3-7-6 Nishiasakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 10:00-17:30 closed on mondays
Access: 5 minutes from Asakusa Station
Price: 3000 yen.
Glass blowing activities / Furin Making
Furins, are small wind chimes made with materials such as glass. During summer in Japan, these chimes are hung under the eaves and produce different sounds depending on the wind. They are very popular and make a very tranquil sound, which make them perfect to listen to on a hot summer day.
Of course you can buy a Furin in a shop and enjoy the sound, but making your own unique furin will add a story to your furin you will be proud to tell to your family and friends and will make this souvenir from Japan even more special.
Shinohara Maruyoshi Furin offers both the glass blowing experience of the process, or just the painting of the furins to those with a little less time. For 1200 yen you can paint your furin and for an extra of 500 yen you can also blow your furin yourself. Time required is 60 minutes (80 minutes WITH glass blowing)
Opening hours: 10:30-18:00 Closed on sundays
Address: 4-25-10 Taito. Taito-ku
Access: Shin-okachimachi Station Exit A2.
More information: http://www.sam.hi-ho.ne.jp/maruyosi/
English language available: Yes!
Other workshops available in Tokyo are: Origami Experiences, Bonsai Experiences, Calligraphy, Washi Paper experiences and Sushi Making experiences.
If you like these experience, please take a look online to find more information. I have not included them in this guide, because I would find the costs of the workshop either too high, not worth it or it wasn't a convenient workshop to do as a foreigner (For example the Bonsai experience is fun, but you are not allowed to take plants on the plane, so it won't be worth the money)
However, feel free to check out these experiences for yourself if you like to :)