Get Crafty in Chubu: Experience Traditional Craft Making Activities in Japan

Create Original Designs with the China Painting Experience at Noritake Garden in Nagoya

At Noritake Garden in Nagoya, visitors can participate in painting bone china mugs or plates. Noritake is a famous Japanese brand of tableware that was founded in Nagoya in 1904.

In the early days of Noritake most of the plates were hand painted, often featuring gold designs. By the early 1920s, Noritake began using techniques to create mass produced but high-quality dinnerware items. Today Noritake products are sold in over 100 countries around the world.

As well as the factory, the business serves as an interesting visitor complex with extensive gardens to explore, a museum and gift shop, old kilns, and red brick buildings symbolic of Japan’s industrial heritage.

At the Noritake Craft Center, you can view the forming process used to produce tableware items along with the decoration process, where craftspeople decorate and paint the intricate designs on the newly formed china.

After viewing how the china is made and decorated, try your hand at creating your own unique design on a china plate or mug at the experience corner. Don’t worry if your design turns out to be a disaster as you can always purchase authentic Noritake items in the on-site lifestyle shop!

Address: Noritake Garden, 3 Chome-1-36 Noritakeshinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

Getting There: Noritake Garden is a 15-minute walk from JR Nagoya Station, or 5 minutes from Kamejima Station on the Higashiyama subway line.

How to Book: Advanced reservations are not necessary. Delivery of your item 1-2 weeks after the event. (Additional cost applies for international shipping.)

Try some Ancient Tie-Dying Techniques in Aichi Prefecture

In the small historic town of Arimatsu, not far from Nagoya, you can learn all about the tradition of Japanese shibori, known as tie-dying in English. The ancient technique of shibori in Arimatsu can be traced back to 1608, when pioneers of the technique first began their business. At that time, Arimatsu was situated as a rest stop on the important Tokaido Road, the major route linking Kyoto and Tokyo, and was used frequently by the feudal lords of Japan.

Arimatsu's shibori
Arimatsu’s shibori

Arimatsu’s shibori products grew in popularity, with many travelers stopping by to purchase the indigo blue and white textiles. Arimatsu tie-dying was designated a traditional craft in 1975 and you can purchase the fabric today in Japanese department stores and kimono shops.

At the Tie-Dying Museum in Arimatsu, you can watch professionals demonstrate how to make the tie-dyed textiles, and you can experience tie-dying your own items using the traditional shibori methods. The experience lasts around two hours, and finished items are posted out to you afterwards for a small additional cost.

Address: Arimatsu Narumi Shibori Kaikan, Arimatsu, Midori-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Perefecture

Getting There: Noritake Garden is a 15-minute walk from JR Nagoya Station, or 5 minutes from Kamejima Station on the Higashiyama subway line.

How to book: Reservations are necessary and must be made by contacting the museum directly by email.

Learn how to make miso – one of Japan’s most popular ingredients!

More than just tasty soup, miso is a traditional seasoning used in many popular Japanese dishes, and a staple ingredient within the typical Japanese diet. The healthy Japanese diet is thought to be one of the reasons why Japan leads in world life expectancy, with Nagano ranking as the number one prefecture in Japan for life expectancy for both men and women. One reason Nagano ranks number one in life expectancy is because of their diet and the abundance of nature in the Shinshu area, so be sure to try some local specialty dishes if you are visiting.

Situated among the scenic mountains of Nagano, you can visit the Marukome Miasa Highland Fermentation Warehouse, a facility which uses the tradition of cold brewing to produce miso. It is said that by storing the miso in cold temperatures, it creates a richer flavour with more depth.The miso is stored in wooden barrels made from local cedar trees and is kept at 1,000meters above sea level to mature.

At the Miasa warehouse you can enjoy a tour of the facilities and try making your own handmade miso to take away with you. The miso making class takes around 60 minutes to complete. There is also a free 30-minute miso tasting class you can participate in too.

Address: Marukome Nagano City Miso Factory, Miasa, Omachi, Nagano Prefecture

Getting There: From Nagano station take the east exit and board the Ogizawa line bus to Shingyo. From Shingyo the miso warehouse is approximately a 10-minute walk.

How to Book: Reservations are required and can be made through the website

These are just a few highlights of some of the unique experiences you can try in the Chubu region, but there are many other activities to discover all over Japan, from making Japanese paper or knives, to participating in cultural practices such as ikebana (flower arranging) and tea ceremonies, or perhaps trying a cookery class.