Fureaikan – Museum of Traditional Crafts
As Japan’s capital for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto was home to countless craftsmen producing artwork and goods that found their way into the town’s many temples, shrines, and residences of the Imperial court.
Even today, Kyoto remains one of Japan’s most prolific producers of traditional crafts, a fact you’ll readily appreciate as you feast your eyes on Kyoto-made Buddhist altars, lacquerware, dolls, ceramics, dyed fabrics, woven textiles used for kimono and obi sashes, paper lanterns, noh masks, stone lanterns, boxwood combs, and much more.
I find it best to go here first for an overview of traditional crafts. What makes a visit here especially insightful are the displays and videos that show the painstaking step-by-step process to create each craft, from the making of a paper fan to producing tatami mats, all beautifully described in English.
Furthermore, the museum stages free demonstrations of master craftsmen at work every day except Monday from 10am to 4:30pm, as well as 15-minute dance performances by maiko (apprentice geisha or geiko) on Sunday at 2, 2:30, and 3pm. Otherwise, you can tour the museum in less than an hour.
Don’t miss the museum’s very good crafts store. You’ll find the museum in the basement of the Miyako Messe (International Exhibition Hall).