Check out our new YouTube video exploring the inside of our store!
It's been almost a year since we launched our online store back in 2020. As some of our customers may know, we have a physical store here in Kyoto, which has a history of over 80 years. As for the online store, it was actually started as a new platform for our customers overseas who can’t come to Kyoto due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, especially for those of you who only know about us online and don’t know much about the physical store, we made a YouTube video! It's a walking tour of the inside of Kyoto Handicraft Center, with our E-Commerce team leader, Ayame Satoh, as your navigator to show you around the store. In this article, in addition to the information shown in the video, we would like to introduce you some other parts of our store that we could not show in the walking tour.
What’s inside the store?
The video mainly introduces our shopping floors, so that you can experience what it’s like to actually walk through the store. The video goes into detail, but in a nutshell, the shopping floors are divided into four sections as follows:
Children's Picture Book Store SAIKA (East 1F)
Kyoto Souvenir Floor (East 2F)
(Traditional handicrafts from Kyoto, sweets and Sake, small miscellaneous items)
Art and Jewelry Floor (West 1F)
(Damascene jewelry, Pearls, Katana, Japanese dolls, woodblock prints and more)
Traditional Handicrafts Floor (West 2F)
(Traditional handicrafts from all over Japan, Kimono and Yukata, books, and more)
Our online store features products from these shopping floors (with the exception of SAIKA), and our E-Commerce team picks up the items from the store on your behalf and hand-packages each item to be delivered to you. We have more than 10,000 items in our physical store, and although we haven't been able to upload all of them on our online store yet, we are gradually adding more items to our lineup every month so that you can see nearly the same selection as our physical store. Additionally, there are actually some limited items only available online, so please keep checking back for new arrivals!
Damascene Craftsmen's Ateliers
Resident Craftsman (West 4F)
As you can see in the video, our company started out selling damascene. Keeping our founding philosophy, we began manufacturing damascene after the war, and have had damascene craftsmen on staff ever since. Today, we have only one resident craftsman, Yuya Okuda, who is an aspiring, talented craftsman who leads the future of traditional handicrafts in Kyoto. His atelier is located on the fourth floor of the West Building and you may have a look if you are interested! His damascene accessories are available for purchase online, as well as on the first floor of the West Building.
Our Partner Craftsmen (East 3F)
There is also another atelier on the third floor of the East Building, where you can observe a couple of other damascene craftsmen from Kyoto Damascene Association at work. It is certainly a valuable experience to be able to actually see how traditional craftsmen working up close. Please have a look at them when you come to our physical store.
Craft-making Workshop "EN-YA" (East 3F)
After watching the process of damascene making by craftsmen, you can actually make them yourself at our craft-making workshop EN-YA, which takes place at the third floor of the East Building. The instructors at EN-YA have a deep understanding of Kyoto's craftsmanship, and we offer seven different craft experiences there, including damascene accessory making, cloisonné accessory making (copper / silver), incense sachet making, Kyoto spinning top making, clay bell doll painting, and folding fan painting. (In addition, we also have woodblock printing and Shichimi spice blending workshop, but they have been temporarily closed due to corona.) If you have done enough of shopping or sightseeing, we highly recommend you trying these workshop classes. You can make your own personalized gift to bring home as a souvenir of Kyoto.
Authentic Japanese Cuisine "Takumi-Shoami" (East 5F, 6F)
Furthermore, on the 5th and 6th floors of the East Building, there is a restaurant Takumi-Shoami, which serves authentic Japanese cuisine. ("Takumi" means "artisan" in Japanese.) This is a reservation-only restaurant where you can enjoy a luxurious Kaiseki course meal. The head chef, Masato Maruyama has years of experience working at 4-star restaurant previously here in Kyoto, and the plates he prepares using seasonal ingredients are truly artisanal works of art. If you want to try Japanese food, but are not a fan of raw fish, have allergies, or prefer gluten-free meals, please don’t hesitate to tell us—our English-speaking staff will be happy to assist you in communicating your needs to the chef. If you are interested, please check out Takumi-Shoami’s website for more information and details.
Casual Soup Stand "Dashi to Umami" (East 1F)
And last but not least, we would like to introduce you our most recently launched shop, "Dashi to Umami." This is another food stand / restaurant produced by Chef Maruyama, the head chef of Takumi-Shoami, and this one is open daily without reservations. It is located on the first floor of the East Building, next to the entrance of Picture Book Store SAIKA.
The shop’s featured menu is a cold soup called "Surinagashi." It’s a traditional Japanese dish made by adding soup stock to grated vegetables. "Surinagashi" from this soup stand is a modern take on this traditional dish, and you can drink it casually through a straw, just like when you have frappe drinks. It looks like a dessert drink, but it is really a savory soup with the flavor of Dashi broth! It’s also available in a bento box set menu including rice balls and side dishes such as fried chicken. This is a great way to have a casual lunch when you stop by Kyoto Handicraft Center for shopping or for workshop classes!
We hope to see you soon in Kyoto!
Now, did you get to learn more about us? In this article, while we feature our newest YouTube video exploring the store, we have introduced more of what’s available at the physical store of Kyoto Handicraft Center. If you have ever wondered what kind of store we are, please take a look at the video, and we hope it helps you get to know about us a little more than before! Currently we still haven’t been able to upload as many products on our online store as we do at the physical store, but we'll be adding more of them in the future, so please keep your eyes on new arrivals every month!
Also, we often get kindest messages from our customers who visited us before, saying that they would love to go back when corona is gone. We hope we’ve been able to keep you updated on what we are up to through the video and this blog. The craft-making workshop or the Japanese restaurants are something we cannot offer online, but we hope you give them a try when you can visit us again.
Little by little, the situation with corona in Japan is calming down. We hope that when you visit Kyoto sometime in the near future, you will enjoy shopping at Kyoto Handicraft Center, watching craftsmen at work, trying handicraft workshop, and enjoying the Japanese food made in Kyoto! All of us here at the Center are looking forward to seeing you soon!