As newly built houses get smaller and the variety of cheap flooring options increases, quintessentially Japanese tatami flooring is becoming less and less of a presence in Japanese homes.
Tatami has held an integral place in the hearts of Japanese people for centuries, and many people are saddened by the way the youth of Japan seem to have fallen out of love with tatami.
Kuboki Tatami Shop
The Kuboki family, from Sukagawa City, have been providing custom-made tatami flooring for their customers for over 270 years, and have been working hard to invent new ways to get young people interested in using traditional tatami flooring.
The family has created a brand called ‘Herry K’ which is comprised of everyday products made using materials traditionally used in tatami flooring, such as tatami and heri (which is the colourful border that separates sheets of tatami from one another).
To be honest, before visiting the Kuboki Tatami Shop, I had never paid attention to
the heri fabric in my house. Visiting the tatami shop made me get excited thinking about all the different colours I could bring into the tatami room in my apartment.
The Kuboki family sell a range of products under their ‘Herry K’ range, including coasters, pencil cases, pots, stands, broaches among many more. The family really does seem to find endless uses for tatami – even their postcards & business cards are made from tatami!
Another way in which the Kuboki family are making tatami culture more accessible for young people enjoy is through running workshops during which participants can make items out of tatami material.
‘Mini tatami stands’ and rose-shaped brooches are just two types of item that you can try your hand at making at Kuboki Tatami, and either of them would make great gifts or souvenirs!
For both of these workshops, you can choose the colour and design of the heri fabric from the dozens of options in store, as this fabric will be the focus of your finished item!
Flower Brooch Workshop
Flower brooch making experience is run by Mrs Kuboki, and occasionally her daughter. They instruct you on the way to fold the heri to make the petals of your flower, and the way to sew the flower together.
The workshop costs 1,000 yen takes around 15 to 30 minutes to complete depending on your natural talent for sewing! (Needless to say, mine took quite a bit of time to make)
Mini Tatami Stand Workshop
This workshop is run by Mr Kuboki, and takes around 30 minutes to complete. It costs 1,000 yen. During this workshop, you customize your tatami stand with a heri border of your choice, and use traditional techniques to attach the heri to the tatami.
I found this workshop to be a bit easier than the brooch workshop. I loved being able to pick the heri colour and pattern, as it really gave my mini tatami stand a personal touch. I was surprised by how big the finished stand is (around 20cm x 20cm), and how little the workshop cost!
The mini tatami stand is a pretty versatile item, but I like to use mine to hold craft items that I have painted & gifts I’ve received from friends.
Booking These Experiences
The Kuboki family have only just started opening up these experiences to the general public, but they are excited to welcome those who are interested, even tourists who can’t speak Japanese!
They can’t teach the workshops in English, but will try their best to explain the steps through gestures. The Kuboki family’s oldest daughter speaks good French though!
To book either of these tatami craft experiences, either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the shop at 090-3646-7966.
(If you need to make a reservation in English, the staff would prefer if you emailed them in simple English rather than call them up!)
Visiting Kuboki Tatami Shop:
Getting there by public transport:
15 minute (1.1km) walk from JR Sukagawa Station.
You can reach Sukagawa Station from Fukushima Station & Koriyama Station via the JR Tohoku Line. See here for information on getting to Fukushima & Koriyama Station.
Getting there by car:
1 hour by car from Fukushima City. Just over 1 hour 10 minutes from Aizu Wakamatsu City.
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