Yuki (in Ibaraki Prefecture) and neighboring Oyama (Tochigi Prefecture) are famous throughout Japan as the home of traditional hand-made textiles known as yuki-tsumugi. The techniques for producing the yarn, dyeing it and weaving the fabric date back to ancient times and are unique in Japan. That is why yuki-tsumugi was registered by UNESCO in 2010 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In the old days, Yuki flourished as a castle town, and many stores and warehouses that were used by the textile wholesalers remain to this day. Some of these historic buildings have been converted into shops and cafes. Meanwhile, Oyama was known for culturing the silkworms that produce the raw silk used for yuki-tsumugi.
Leina Bambino meets with some of the artisans in Yuki who produce textiles. In Oyama, she also visits farmers who grow the local specialty, bottle gourds (kanpyo), which are in peak season from late June through August.
On this edition of Journeys in Japan: meeting the families - the artisans and food producers - who are working to pass down their skills for future generations.
Besides picking up information about tourist sites, visitors can also purchase local products and watch yuki-tsumugi weaving.
Address: 1-1-1 Kokubu-cho, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Open: 09:30 AM~5:00 PM (closed Monday)
Oyama Honba yuki-tsumugi Craft Hall (Oyama)
This facility provides information and gives demonstrations of yuki-tsumugi and raw silk. Visitors can try on the fabric here. Souvenir merchandise is also available.
Address: Roble Bldg. 1F, 3-7-1 Chuo-cho, Oyama-shi, Tochigi-ken
Open: 10:00 AM~6:00 PM (closed Monday; if a national holiday falls on a Monday, it is closed the following day. Also July and August)
Prior reservations required (excluding June~September)
The yuki-tsumugi Gallery displays 300 examples of yuki-tsumugi inside a house that dates back around 150 years.
The Teori museum demonstrates the history of the textiles, focusing on how they are made. Exhibits include tools and old documents. Admission 200 yen (students 100 yen).
Yuki Sawaya is a store that specializes in kimono and accessories, such as geta (clogs) made from paulownia wood, a traditional local craft.
The Ichi-no-kura gallery and cafe has been set up inside a renovated storehouse. The specialties of the cafe are mulberry tea and sweet dumplings.
Address: 12-2 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Address: 1-1-1 Kokubucho, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Open: Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM~3:00 PM; also weekdays, by prior reservation (except June~August).
Address: 2515 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Open: 10:00 AM~5:00 PM
Address: 174 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Open: 9:00 AM~6:00 PM (closed Sunday)
This gallery exhibits clay figures known as Haniwa, as well as other ritual items that were excavated from the burial mounds.
Address: 335 Iizuka, Oyama-shi, Tochigi-ken
Admission: free of charge
Open: 9:00 AM~4:30 PM (closed Monday; if a national holiday falls on a Monday, it is closed the following day)
Traveler: Leina Bambino > More Info
Occupation:TV personality / English teacher
Length of residence in Japan:3 years
Reason:To become an actress/TV personality. For entertainment purposes
On this journey, I visited the cities of Oyama and Yuki.
In Oyama, I got to see how kanpyo (dried bottle-gourd) is made. I love eating kanpyo, so it was fascinating to witness how much work goes into the process, to create the perfect product we eat. Besides noticing the strong dedication of the farmers, I could also see that cooperation between the family members was the key factor which held everything together.
In Yuki, I observed and experienced the process of making yuki-tsumugi silk fabric, and this helped me understand more deeply how everything is done. Most of all, it also made me realize there is more to it than the task itself. The key to keeping the tradition alive lies in the strong bonds within each family.
In both families, I was touched by their unconditional love for each other, and it has reminded me to value and cherish my loved ones. This opportunity to meet the local people who are keeping their traditions alive was beyond words. This trip helped me gain insight into Japanese culture. But most of all, I was nourished by the abundance of love from the local people throughout this trip.