Home > Traditional Industries

Main content starts here.

Traditional Industries

Traditional industries in Kyoto

Kyoto has inherited a wealth of traditional craftsmanship from its era as the nation’s capital, which lasted until early modern times. Today Kyoto’s traditional industries, nurtured by the city’s historical legacies and locally-developed culture, remain a rich source of inspiration for our daily lives. Kyoto Prefecture regards its traditional local industries as valuable assets that support Japan’s tradition and culture. To conserve them for future generations and to encourage them to develop in a way that is complementary to contemporary lifestyles, the prefecture is conducting a range of programs under a prefectural ordinance designed to promote traditional manufacturing and cultural industries.

The “Kyomono Traditional Crafts” Designation

To preserve and maintain traditional skills and train successors in traditional crafts, Kyoto Prefecture confers the designation of “Kyomono Traditional Crafts” to local crafts meeting the following criteria: 1. A major part of the manufacturing process is handcrafting, or an extension of handcrafting. 2. The manufacturing employs traditional techniques or processes. 3. Traditionally-used materials form the major part of materials, or traditional designs are used. 

Nishijin-ori (Woven Textiles)
Nishijin Textile Industrial Association 

A luxury silk textile developed in Kyoto, Nishijin-ori is a thread-dyed, figured textile that is mostly produced in large varieties and small lots. Kyoto’s silk weaving has its roots in the techniques introduced prior to the Heian period by members of the Hata clan, a powerful ruling family originating from the continent. The growth of silk textile production during Heian-period Kyoto was concomitant with the development of imperial court culture. Nishijin textiles are used today for a wide range of products including traditional Japanese clothing and decoration such as obi, kimono and kinran gold brocade, as well as home furnishings, neckties, scarves, and bags.

TEL: +81-75-432-6131 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry 

Kyo-kanoko Shibori (Dyed Textiles)
Cooperative Association for the Promotion of Kyo-Kanoko Shibori

Shibori is a dyeing technique used for kimono and obiage fabrics. The name “kanoko” (fawn) derives from the resemblance of the tie-dyed pattern to the spots on the back of a fawn. Numerous patterns are created by combining various binding techniques, the best-known of which include hitta shibori and hitome shibori.

TEL: +81-75-255-0469 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-yuzen and Kyo-komon (Dyed Textiles)
Kyo-yuzen Kyodokumiai Rengoukai (Federation of Kyo-Yuzen Cooperatives)

Tradition has it that the yuzen dyeing technique was devised by a fan painter named Miyazaki Yuzensai during the Genroku era (late 17th-early 18th c) of the Edo period. Yuzen refers to techniques for applying pictorial or decorative dyed patterns to kimono and obi fabric, and is today classified into tegaki (freehand) yuzen and kata (stenciled) yuzen. Komon, originally used for decorating kamishimo worn by samurai, is a dyeing technique that became more or less established by the 17th century. Komon was initially mostly single-colored but gradually became multicolored in Kyoto, where the two-way influence between yuzen and komon resulted in the unique komon that is known today as Kyo-komon.

TEL: +81-75-255-4496 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-nui (Embroidery)
Kyoto Embroidery Cooperative Association

Kyo-nui, or Kyoto embroidery, and the decorating of clothes with embroidery are said to have originated when the ancient capital was moved from Nara to Kyoto, along with the nuibe no tsukasa or bureau of court embroiderers. Today Kyo-nui is applied to a wide range of products including traditional Japanese clothing, ceremonial goods and framed decorations. Embroidered patterns, created with a single needle and multicolored threads, add decorative touches to kimonos and woven fabrics.

TEL: +81-75-493-4006  Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-kumihimo (Braided Cords)
Kyokumihimo Kogyo Kyodo Kumiai (Kyoto Kumihimo Industry Cooperative Association)

Kumihimo or braided cords have been used since the Heian period for a wide range of accessories and furnishings including goods for Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies, samurai armor, and scabbard cords. Today they are used for traditional Japanese clothing items such as obijime and haori cords, as well as contemporary accessories.

TEL: +81-75-441-6755 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-kuromontsukizome (Black Dyeing)
Kyoto Kurozome Industry Cooperative Association

Kuromontsukizome refers to the dyeing techniques for producing black kurotomesode (kimono worn for weddings) and mofuku (kimono worn for mourning) fabrics, and the family crests that adorn such kimonos. Processes of kuromontsukizome include mon-norioki, kurozome, mon-arai, and mon-uwae. There are two types of kurozome, namely hikizome and shinsen. Fabrics for patterned kimonos such as kurotomesode are dyed by hikizome, and fabrics for plain kimono like mofuku are dyed by shinsen.

TEL: +81-75-221-1389 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-butsudan and Kyo-butsugu(Buddhist Altars and Paraphernalia)
Kyoto-hu Butsugu Cooperatives

Kyoto is Japan’s capital of Buddhist culture, where many Buddhist temples, ranging in size and sect, can be seen throughout the city. Kyoto’s Buddhist altars and related equipment have developed in response to demand created by these numerous temples, as well as by ordinary households. Buddhist altars are arguably a form of composite art that integrates craftsmanship in wood, metal and lacquer.

TEL: +81-75-341-2426 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-shikki (Lacquerware)
Kyoto Shikki Kougei Kyodokumiai (Kyoto Lacquerware Crafts Cooperative Association)

Lacquerware developed in partnership with the tea ceremony. Kyoto’s lacquerware employs distinct techniques in the application of lacquer and decoration, and exudes refinement and nuances referred to as wabi and sabi. Lacquerware products include items for the tea ceremony, general tableware, furniture and accessories.

TEL: +81-75-761-3460 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-sashimono (Wood Crafts)
Kyoto Wood Crafts Cooperative Association

Kyoto’s woodworking encompasses sashimono (joinery), horimono (carving), hikimono (turning), magemono (band boxes), tagamono (buckets/barrels), and kurimono (openwork carving), all of which involve highly specialized skills and tools. Furnishings as well as utensils for tea and incense ceremonies are created by combining these distinct techniques in an integrated manner.

TEL: +81-75-351-2291 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki (Ceramics)
Federation of Kyoto Pottery and Porcelain Cooperatives

Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki are umbrella terms for ceramics produced in Kyoto, which are characterized by their elegance and sophistication, underpinned by high design standards and rich range of techniques employed. The earliest known ceramic production in Kyoto took place more than 1,200 years ago (Nara period) at Seikanji Temple, where a Buddhist priest named Gyoki built a kiln for firing earthenware. The site is believed to be near today’s Chawanzaka. Another characteristic of ceramics produced in Kyoto is that most are handmade, in wide varieties and small lots.

TEL: +81-75-582-3113 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-sensu and Kyo-uchiwa(Folding Fans and Round Fans)
Kyoto Sensu and Uchiwa Commerce and Industry Cooperative Association

Sensu (folding fans) and uchiwa (round fans) made in Kyoto are indispensable to Japan’s traditional arts and culture. Folding fans, originally thin pieces of wood strung together, are believed to have originated in Kyoto in the early Heian period. Round fans made in Kyoto have their origins in the Edo-period gosho uchiwa, fans with elaborately painted decorations by court painters.

TEL: +81-75-761-3572 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyoto Stone Crafts
Kyoto Stone Industry Cooperative Association

Kyoto’s stone crafts are heavily influenced by Buddhism and the tea ceremony and are characterized by their advanced craftsmanship, as well as sophisticated, classic and timeless designs. The production of stone lanterns, basins and pagodas were closely related to the tea ceremony, and resulted in the development of highly specialized techniques, because such items had to meet the demanding aesthetic standards of the art of tea.

TEL: +81-75-256-2955 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-ningyo (Dolls)
Kyo-Ningyo Commerce and Industry Cooperative

Kyo-ningyo or Kyoto dolls are believed to have originated in the Heian period, when it became fashionable for girls and women of the nobility to play house (called hiina asobi) using a pair of male and female dolls. The production of Kyoto dolls is highly departmentalized: head, hair, limbs, accessories and clothes are handcrafted by separate, skilled artisans. Today Kyo-ningyo includes several types, such as hina ningyo, gogatsu ningyo, fuzoku ningyo, and gosho ningyo.

TEL: +81-75-761-3460 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-hyogu (Mounting)
Kyouhyougu Kyodokumiai Rengoukai (Federation of Kyoto Hyogu Cooperatives)

Kyoto, an artistic and religious hub since ancient times, was also central to the development of art and calligraphy mountings, called hyogu or hyoso. Hyoso was introduced from China along with Buddhism, and was initially employed for sutra scrolls. Today’s hyoso is used for functional items such as sliding doors, as well as arts and crafts products such as hanging scrolls and frames, and for the restoration of antiques.

TEL: +81-75-314-5700 Traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Kyo-fusahimo and Yorihimo (Knot Tassels and Twisted Cords)
Kyoto Fusayorihimo Industry Cooperative Association

Fusahimo (knot tassel) and yorihimo (twisted cord) developed as elegant accessories and interior decorations for the nobility during the Heian period, and as decorations for samurai armor during the Kamakura period. Today they are appreciated as embellishments for Shinto and Buddhist paraphernalia, as well as for items used in festivals, tea ceremonies, traditional performing arts and daily life.

TEL: +81-75-441-6755

Kyo-toningyo (Ceramic Dolls)
Kyo-Toningyo Cooperative Association

Kyo-toningyo refers to biscuit-fired, painted ceramic dolls produced in Kyoto. The figurines maintain the simple, supple appearance of clay, yet have an extremely subtle and refined atmosphere. They are mostly produced in large variations and small lots, in designs that are unique to Kyoto and express the beauty of clay to its best advantage.

TEL: +81-75-761-3460

Kyoto Metal Crafts
Kyoto Metal Arts and Crafts Association

When the capital was moved from Nara to Kyoto at the beginning of the Heian period, the metalsmiths relocated to Kyoto too, where numerous metal products began to be produced. Employing a great variety of techniques and materials, metal crafts produced in Kyoto are renowned for the beauty of their surface texture, shape, and exquisite decoration, and are highly valued as craft products unique to Japan.

TEL: +81-75-761-3460 

Kyo-zogan (Inlay)
Kyo-Zogan Cooperative Association

Kyo-zogan, or inlay produced in Kyoto, involves creating patterns on a metal surface by carving and filling with metals of different colors and different degrees of protrusion. Kyo-zogan products include accessories such as pendant heads and tiepins, as well as home decorations such as frames.

TEL: +81-75-461-2773

Kyo-hamono (Cutting tools)
Kyoto Cutlery Cooperative Association

Kyoto produces a huge variety of edged tools—ranging from household tools such as kitchen knives, scissors and chisels to specialist tools—which are renowned for their quality and user-friendliness. Kyoto’s unique techniques for creating edged tools developed not only because the city had long been the capital, but also because precise, reliable cutting tools were indispensable for its traditional industries, such as Nishijin textiles, folding fans and Kyoto cuisine.

TEL: +81-75-371-8831

Kyoto Ceremonial Costumes and Furnishings
Kyoto Jingi Crafts Cooperative Association

Ceremonial costumes include clothing items such as ikan (official robe), kariginu (informal robe) and hakama (divided skirt). Furnishings and paraphernalia for Shinto rituals and ceremonies include shinden (miniature shrines), mikoshi (portable shrines), gohei (wands), shinkyo (mirrors), gakudaiko (drums), sanbo (footed trays), misu (screens) and tobarimaku (screens). Ritual and ceremonial paraphernalia come in huge varieties and are mostly handmade to order in small lots.

TEL: +81-75-561-3017

Kyo-meichiku (Bamboo Crafts)
Kyoto Bamboo Products Cooperative Association

Bamboo crafts have a long tradition in Kyoto, where the climate and environment is ideal for the growth of bamboo. Kyoto’s bamboo craft products are characterized by their designs, which take advantage of the bamboo’s natural features, a testament to the superior quality of bamboo produced in Kyoto.

TEL: +81-75-691-1324

Kyoto Shikishi, Tanzaku and Wahonjo
Kyoto Shikishi and Tanzaku Cooperative Association

Many poetry anthologies made during the Heian period are known to have used dyed and other decorative paper, and it is believed that such paper was the origin of today’s shikishi and tanzaku (cards or heavy paper for calligraphy or painting). Because the court and temples were the heaviest users of shikishi and tanzaku, Kyoto was home to many of their innovations. Most of the artisans who specialized in working with kindei (gold paint) and gold and silver foil, for instance, are said to have trained in Kyoto.

TEL: +81-75-255-1515

Kitayama Maruta (Cedar Logs)
Kyoto Kitayama Maruta Federation

The history of Kitayama cedar logs dates back to around the Oei era (1394-1427) when they were increasingly used in sukiya-style tea room interiors as the tea ceremony rose in popularity from the mid-Muromachi period onward. Kitayama cedar logs are close-grained, are renowned for their smoothness and sheen, and are less prone to discoloration or cracking.

TEL: +81-75-406-2003

Kyo-hanga (Woodblock Printing)
Kyoto Woodblock Printing Association

Kyoto’s woodblock printing has its origins in the Buddhist prints produced in the late Heian period, and evolved into today’s elaborate multicolored prints during the Edo period. Kyoto woodblock prints are characterized by their subject matter, which include religious subjects associated with temples and shrines, and subjects based on Kyoto’s culture and scenery. The technique of adding gofun chalk to the ink to add body to the color is distinctive to Kyoto.

TEL: +81-75-353-8585

Tango Fujifu Fabric
Association for the Promotion of Tango Fujifu Fabric

Ancient Japanese people living in mountainous areas wove textiles for everyday clothes from fibers of wild trees and grass. Reminiscent of such ancient traditions, Tango region’s fujifu (wisteria cloth) is made by weaving the fibers of wild wisteria vines. The technique, which has become extremely rare today, has been handed down through generations of people living in Kyoto’s mountainous Tango region.

TEL: +81-772-43-1222

Kurotani Washi (Japanese Paper)
Kurotani Washi Cooperative Association

Kurotani is one of the few surviving papermaking villages in Kyoto Prefecture. According to traditional belief, papermaking was started by surviving members of the Taira clans who fled to Kurotani, to give their descendants a means of earning a living. In an age when paper is mostly machine-made, Kurotani remains one of the few locations in Japan where paper is still entirely handmade, maintaining and using traditional papermaking techniques.

TEL: +81-773-44-0213

Tango Chirimen
Tango Textile Industry Cooperative Association

Tango Peninsula in Kyoto Prefecture, famous for Amanohashidate (known as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan), is the center of Tango Chirimen production. Silk textiles developed over the centuries as the region’s specialty product, because the climate and other conditions were suited to their production. Production of Tango Chirimen, an un-dyed silk crepe fabric used for kimonos, etc. began in the mid-Edo period.

TEL: +81-772-68-5211

Kyoto Tatami Commerce and Industry Cooperative Association

Tatami mats have a very long history. The earliest written mention of tatami use appears in the Kojiki or Record of Ancient Matters. Handscroll paintings from the Heian period show tatami very close in form to the ones we know today being used like area rugs. Tatami mats are characterized by their distinct appearance, capacity to retain warmth, durability and functionality.

TEL: +81-75-842-1378

Kyo-insho (Seals)
Kyoto Seal Industry Cooperative Association

Seals developed in China were reputedly introduced to Japan during the times of Prince Shotoku, and their official use started with the adoption of the Taiho Code. Kyoto was where Japan’s earliest seal engravers emerged, when the use of seals spread to the general population during the Edo period. Kyoto has since developed into a center for seal production.


Kyomono Innovative Products

To encourage the creation of innovative products utilizing traditional know-how, Kyoto Prefecture confers the designation of “Kyomono Innovative Product” to newly-developed products that make creative use of techniques and designs designated as Kyomono Traditional Crafts, and are complementary to contemporary lifestyles.

Tango Chirimen Products
Tango Textile Industry Cooperative Association

Tango Chirimen products are made from Tango Chirimen, a fabric that is designated as a Kyomono Traditional Craft and is produced in Kyoto Prefecture’s Tango region. Tango Chirimen is dyed and made into a wide range of useful products including kimono accessories, fashion accessories, clothing, bedding, home furnishing products and other daily articles. Specific items include furoshiki, obiage, scarves and bags.

TEL : +81-772-68-5211

Kyomono Traditional Foods

Kyoto Prefecture confers the designation of “Kyomono Traditional Food” to food items that are produced using traditional ingredients, manufacturing techniques and processes.

Kyo-tsukemono (Pickles)
Kyoto Prefecture Food Industry Association(Kyoto Prefecture Tsukemono Cooperative Association)

Kyoto has a long history of producing and enjoying tsukemono or pickles, which are made using carefully selected ingredients and traditional methods. Three types of pickles have been designated as Kyomono Traditional Foods, namely senmaizuke, suguki and shibazuke. These are known as the three most traditional and representational varieties of Kyo-tsukemono, or Kyoto pickles. Senmaizuke was already an established product in the late Edo period, suguki in the Momoyama period, and shibazuke in the late 1100s. All three are traditional foods unique to Kyoto.

TEL : +81-75-314-7142


Division of Textiles and Crafts, Department of Commerce, Labor and Tourism, Kyoto Prefecture Yabunouchi-cho, Shimodachiuri-dori Shinmachi Nishiiru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto 602-8570, Japan TEL : +81-75-414-4858 FAX : +81-75-414-4870