What is a Japanese traditional craft?


Dear reader,

In one of our previous posts, we went over the 5 reasons why there are so many crafts in Kyoto. Only in the Old Capital, there are officially 74 categories of traditional industries. 17 of them were designated on the national level, 14 on the prefectural one and 43 were certified by the City of Kyoto.

As of May 2022, there are 236 nationally designated traditional crafts in Japan. All of them were determined by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry based on the Law Concerning the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries promulgated in 1974.

To be designated as a Japanese Traditional Craft, an item must satisfy 5 conditions:

1) It must be a product mainly used in daily life (as opposed to a piece of art at the museum).

2) The main and most significant part of its manufacturing process must be done by hand.

3) It must be manufactured using traditional skills and techniques that have a history of 100 years or more and have continued to the present day.

4) Its main raw materials have been used continuously for more than 100 years.

5) It must be manufactured in a certain region by a business of a certain scale and belonging to an established regional craft industry.

If you’re curious about what Kyoto crafts correspond to these strict criteria, here they are: Nishijin-ori (Nishijin woven textiles), Kyo-yuzen (Kyoto yuzen dyeing), Kyo-kanoko-shibori (Kyoto tie-dyeing), Kyo-komon (Kyoto komon dyeing), Kyo-kumihimo (Kyoto braided cords), Kyo-nui (Kyoto embroidery), Kyo-kuromontsuki-zome (Kyoto kuromontsuki-zome dyeing), Kyo-butsudan (Kyoto Buddhist household altars), Kyo-Butsugu (Kyoto Buddhist paraphernalia), Kyo-shikki (Kyoto lacquerware), Kyo-sashimono (Kyoto woodwork), Kyo-yaki・Kiyomizu-yaki (Kyoto pottery), Kyo-sensu (Kyoto folding fans), Kyo-uchiwa (Kyoto round fans), Kyo-hyogu (Kyoto mountings), Kyo-ishi-kogeihin (Kyoto stone crafts) and Kyo-ningyo (Kyoto dolls).

You can learn more about them and also about the remaining 57 Kyoto traditional crafts here:

Words & images by Anastasiya Bulkavets (