If you like the traditional arts and crafts of Ishikawa and feel the need to create and be creative, makes plans to head to Kaga’s Yunokuni no Mori (ゆのくにの森). Yunokuni no Mori is a Kaga Traditional Cultural Amenity and offers guests the chance to watch craft-making, make their own crafts, and make or eat fantastic food. (Yes, handmade food is an artistic creation!)
The “village” is a cluster of workshops that focus on the traditional crafts of Ishikawa: kutani ceramic pottery（kutani-yaki, 九谷焼）; Wajima lacquerware (wajima nuri, 輪島塗）; Japanese paper-making （washi, 和紙）; Kaga yuzen printed silk （yuzen, 友禅）; gold leaf（kinpaku, 金箔）; Yamanaka lacquerware (yamanaka nuri, 山中塗); music boxes (orugouru, オルゴール); glasswork (gurasu kougei, グラス工芸); Echizen pottery (echizen te bineri, 越前手びねり) and the culinary arts: Japanese and Western sweets (okashi, お菓子) and soba-noodle making (soba, そば). There are three restaurants with delicious local food, a teahouse, an omiyage shop, and some art galleries as well. You pay a flat fee to enter, and then you pay a fee for whatever activities you choose.
The village is gorgeous—set in a wooden area not too far from Natadera by car, the thatched roves and stone paths of the village are gorgeous in the snow. The village boasts beautiful wildflowers and blooms in the warmer months, and maple leaves in the fall.
If you speak good Japanese, around JLPT N2 level, you shouldn’t have a problem making the crafts. A lot of the signs are bilingual, but the staff isn’t really, though they are friendly and willing to help. I recommend going with a Japanese-speaker if you don’t speak a lot.
When I visited, I decorated a tea tray with gold leaf at a workshop. If you have a small group (under 10 people), you don’t need a reservation, so I was able to just walk into the gold leaf house and didn’t have to wait to get started. The gold-leaf decorating, like the pottery painting/sculpture and paper-making, is priced based on the piece. A tea tray is about 1500 yen to decorate, but a vase is 2000 yen. You can view the prices on the website: click on the building on the map, then scroll down and click the activity (Japanese only).
This was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and I can’t recommend Hakusan, the soba restaurant, enough. I ordered a vegetable-based meal of soba and a stone pot of rice and veggies, and it was worth every yen.
More information below the cut.
Regular hours: 8:30 – 5:00
Winter hours (12/1-2/28) 9:00 – 16:30
Reservations required for groups of over 10 people.
Na 3-3 Awazu-onsen, Komatsu-shi, Ishikawa-ken 923-0390
Take the CAN Bus Mountainside Course to Yunokuni no Mori (ゆのくにの森); 34 minutes from Kaga-onsen Station (加賀温泉駅).
Take the Komatsu By-Pass (小松バイパス) to the 11. The site is well marked in Japanese and right on the side of the road. See map.
Entrance fee: 530 yen for adults
Prices vary for the craft making, but expect to pay about 1000~2000 yen for each craft you decide to do. Each workshop takes about 30 minutes, is limited based on the amount of room, and is first-come, first-serve. I had no problems getting into my crafting right away, but I went on a snowy weekday during winter holidays.
Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. Though a sculptor of words by trade, she also loves hands-on arts and crafts.