Morioka Tezukuri Mura
The artisans’ village in Iwate
Morioka Tezukuri Mura or Morioka Handi-Works Square is a place dedicated to local craftsmanship on the shores of Lake Gosho, on the western part of Morioka City. This unique facility, whose motto is "see, touch and create", houses about fifteen artisans’ workshops, offering visitors an introduction to Japanese traditional crafts and especially those of Iwate prefecture.
Morioka Tezukuri Mura is divided in three distinctive spaces displaying the local artisans’ crafts. At the entrance is the Exhibition Area, with the Regional Industry Promotion Center including a small museum, a shop and a café. It is also possible to visit Nanbu Magariya, an ancient and genuine house of typical Iwate architecture. Built in the Edo Period (1603-1868), it includes the peasants’ living quarters and a stable for the clan’s horses. Some tools used for agriculture at the time are also on display.
The most interesting and vast space is the Workshop Area. Visitors can discover about fifteen types of local crafts and it is even possible to come into some workshops to have a closer look on the artisans’ working routine. A nice path allows to discover leisurely all the workshops and their related skills:
- fabric dyeing (somemono);
- straw crafting and creation of straw objects;
- wood crafting;
- loom weaving;
- cups decoration;
- bamboo crafting;
- weaving of dried flowers wreath;
- kokeshi dolls painting;
- spinning top crafting; and
- making of reimen noodles.
Some workshops offer introductory sessions for children and adults, but it is strongly advised to have a minimum knowledge of Japanese language as most of the artisans don’t speak English. Foreign visitors are nonetheless warmly welcomed and for some of the more practical workshop, such as cooking, copying the artisans’ simple moves is enough to get satisfactory results.
The most popular activities are the making of senbei rice crackers, or cold reimen noodles from buckwheat, potato and sweet potato flour. Another group of kind artisans teaches the aizome indigo dyeing and proposes to dye a fine cotton cloth – somemono - ornamented with the patterns you like. It is also possible to create a wooden object like a kokeshi doll or a spinning top.
Some workshops are only for demonstration due to high-level skills involved or a time-consuming fabrication process. This is the case of the traditional cast iron kettle teapot workshop, for example. It is easy to be charmed by the timeless atmosphere, immersed in the old French songs the artisans listen to when working.
Most of the objects crafted in the workshops are on sale in the last section, dedicated to shopping and souvenirs. Morioka Tezukuri Village, with its various and open workshops, is the ideal place for Japanese craftsmanship amateurs.