TOKYO Teshigoto
2019.11.26

Let’s craft an auspicious owl in Tsukada Koubou’s ‘Kimekomi Experience’!

Workshop Experience

Let’s craft an owl in this ‘Kimekomi Experience‘!

  • Contents: Kimekomi Experience (Fukuro – Auspicious Owl)
  • Participation Fee: 3,500 JPY (incl. tax) *Material costs included
  • Time required: Approximately 100-120 minutes (depending on the individual pace)
  • Reservation method: At least two days in advance, please let us know via telephone or Email your (1) name (2) telephone number (3) number of participants and (4) desired date and time.  TEL: +81 (0) 3-3622-4579  Email: eisyun@edokimekomi.com
  • Remarks: *There are other courses as ‘Fukuro’ as well. Please check the official website of ‘Tsukada Koubou’ for details such as participation fees and required times. TEL: +81 (0) 3-3622-4579  Email: eisyun@edokimekomi.com

Trying out the ‘Kimekomi Experience’ is Ms. Kasuga (to the left), guiding the experience is Mr. Masahiro Tsukada (to the right) of ‘Tsukada Koubou’.

Experience Kimekomi in Mukojima in Sumida-ku!

Making ‘Edo-Kimekomi Ningyo’ (dolls made of wood and tucked-in cloth) is a traditional craft that originated in Kyoto and was developed further in Edo. Nowadays ‘Edo-Kimekomi Ningyo’ can often be seen as the dolls displayed at the Hina festival, though the Kimekomi techniques are also used for many other dolls and decorations. Today we visited Tsukada Koubou, a Kimekomi doll workshop in Mukojima, Sumida-ku, to participate in a Kimekomi Experience. The workshop is managed by two generations, parent and child, and also features a small gallery that shows a glimpse of the various forms and history of Kimekomi dolls. At Tsukada Koubou, courses such as ‘Small Mari (ball ornament) Strap’, ‘Fukuro (Auspicious Owl)’and ‘Mukojima Komachi (Beauty of Mukojima)’are available, each with a different difficulty and time requirement. Among these, Ms Kasuga chose the ‘Fukuro’ course for her experience. In Japanese, Fukuro can mean owl, as well as “arrival of good fortune”, and “no hardship”, making the owl an auspicious animal, and also a perfect present to friends and family. The experience was guided by craftsman in the 7th generation Mr Masahiro of the Tsukada Koubou.

Before the experience, the process and materials to make a Kimekomi doll is explained briefly.

Listen to explanations about unusual materials and tools!

Even if you have seen finished Kimekomi dolls, there are not many chances to see the materials and processes leading up to the finished doll. Before the Kimekomi experience, Mr Masahiro gives an easy explanation while showing the actual tools and materials. In the process of making Kimekomi dolls, the outer parts of cloth is stuffed into insertions that were cut into a clay called Toso, that is made by kneading paulownia sawdust and Shofu-nori (wheat starch paste) together. The Toso model is shown as well. Interspersed is interesting information, such as: ‘the Shofu-nori is the same kind as is used for the sweet dessert Kuzumochi.’

Tools and materials used in the production of ‘Fukuro’. The left owl is the completed model. The owl on the right is not covered with cloth yet, this is the Toso.

After confirming the crafting process, it is time to start the experience!

After an explanation about Kimekomi dolls, Mr Mahiro takes the ‘Fukuro’ in his hand and demonstrates how to cover it with cloth. ‘First apply the glue to the carved-in lines with a bamboo skewer. Then apply the cloth and push it in once with this spatula. When you remove the cloth, a white mark stemming from the glue remains, use scissors to cut along this white mark 1 mm away. Then apply the cut cloth again and push it into the cut-in lines‘. Once you internalized this process, it is finally time to start your crafting experience.

‘Apply the glue and push in the cloth’, each step of the process is first being demonstrated.

The glue is applied with a bamboo skewer along the carved-in lines in the Toso. At first Ms Kasuga hesitated on how much glue to apply, though in the second half of the experience she was completely in the flow.

The cloth is pushed firmly into the carved-in lines.

The outside of the glue mark is cut with scissors. This is an important step that makes it easy for the cloth to fit in the carved-in lines. 

The cut-out parts are held to the Toso to check their size.

While paying attention to any parts that might stick out, the cloth is pushed in with a spatula.

After covering the bottom part with the cloth, proceed the same way with the eye parts. 

Finally holes are carved in for the eyes, and after inserting the eye parts the ‘Fukuro’ is completed.

Ms. Kasuga fully concentrated on the crafting process. The result is magnificent!

With family or with friends. Come and have a good time!

The process of the Toso becoming an owl step by step through the accumulation of detailed work is interesting even when only viewed from the outside. Ms Kasuga spent the relatively long time of one hour, though apparently it was a lot of fun. Ms Kasuga crafted a ‘Fukuro’, and there is also a course called ‘Oyako Fukuro (Parent and Child Owl)’ with a small and a large owl to gift to each other, so not only adults, but children as well can try the crafting experience. Tsukada Koubou also accepts reservations from school excursions, and if there are more than 10 people (up to 20 people), they will borrow a nearby space. Calling out to many friends and participating together might be a good way to form lasting memories. ‘Small Mari Strap’. Various cloths are available, and you can have fun creating different atmospheres depending on how you match the colours.

The entrance of Tsukada Koubou. There is also a small gallery on the first floor where you can see Edo-kimekomi dolls.

  • Company name: Tsukada Koubou
  • Address: Mukojima 2-11-7, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
  • Business hours: 10:00 – 17:00
  • Closed: Sundays and public holidays
  • Website: http://www.edokimekomi.com/
  • Access: Approximately 8 minutes on foot from A3 Exit of Oshiage Station on the Toei Asakusa Line and Hanzomon Line, approximately 10 minutes on foot from Tokyo Sky Tree Station on the Tobu Sky Tree Line.