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Kyoto jewelry attractions

As part of an upcoming business trip I will have a Saturday to spend
in Kyoto, Japan. Are there any jewelry related sights I should see?
Any other sights? Please bear in mind that my Japanese is pretty much
limited to “please” “thank you” and “white wine”!

Julia in Toledo, OH

I have recently returned from 2 weeks in Kyoto, and found very little
jewellery there - historically the Japanese didn’t wear it, although
many of their crafts are of relevance to metalsmiths, eg the
damascene and repousse work in swords (and their furniture), the
brilliant woodwork and stone carving, and of course the casting and
repousse in the statuary and the military armour. The textiles are
amazing too of course, and you will see kiminos and hair ornaments
so beautiful it will make you weep. Kyoto’s speciality historically
(and it is “the” historical area of Japan having been the capital
from the late 8th century to the 12th, and not having been bombed
extensively in WWII), is ceramics. There is a handicraft/ textile
centre - beautiful for weaving but not for anything very jewellery

The one place where there is an ongoing exhibition of extremely
beautiful work is the Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts - small
but exquisite work, including metalsmithing, and very beautiful work
on swords. The Municipal Museum of Modern Art had an excellent
exhibition by women artists in July, but also a temporary exhibition
of wonderful modern sculpture, including metal. That’s what is quite
hard to find there - contemporary work. You’ll probably fly into
Kansai airport, which is at Itami. On the opposite side of the
airport towards Osaka, not towards Kyoto, is the Museum of Arts and
Crafts at Itami (email is, which has modern work.
They are closed on Mondays, the only day I could go, so I haven’t,
but I hear it is quite large and interesting, and they have a
website but it is mostly in Japanese.

Kyoto is an aesthetic feast so I’m sure you will find inspiration
there even if no so much actual jewellery -

Anna Williams

Not about jewelry-making…about Kyoto

Hello Julia, Oh where to begin…! I lived in Kyoto for two years,
decades ago, and my husband is a native. Kyoto is a smallish
beautiful city (like San Francisco, for example) that’s an ancient
capital of Japan. During WW2, historians petitioned the US govt. not
to damage it because of its historic value and many temples and other
sites. There is so much to see—and all of it is, one could say,
arty and aesthetic. Jewelry isn’t one of the prominent arts, but
there are so ma= ny inspiring others. The local transportation is
convenient, walking is easy. I’m not sure what a person would do
with one day in Kyoto. If the time can possibly be extended, I’m
recommend it. There are always indigenous festivals and activities
that are fun to observe. There are some monthly flea markets (on
temple grounds) for finding treasures. In any case, the local
tourist office is extremely friendly and helpful. It’s located in the
main train station. Please check out this website. Perhaps you can
arrange something to do in advance, so that your precious available
time is used well. Some of the festivals are listed here. By
the way, one of the (many) intriguing qualities of Japan that I
experienced there is that the sensibility to art and aesthetics in
every aspect of life. I wonder if any active jewelers in Kyoto are
on Ganoksin?

Best wishes,
Barbara in California