If you’re planning a trip to Japan in 2020 and love Japanese woodwork, we’re compiling a list of the must-see destinations to visit for all things woodcraft and architecture.
If you’ve any places you think we should include, please contact us with details, we’d love to hear from you.
Horyuji Temple – Nara
Horyuji Temple (法隆寺, Hōryūji) was founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku, who is credited with the early promotion of Buddhism in Japan. Horyuji is one of the country’s oldest temples and contains the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. It was designated a world heritage site in 1993. Horyuji’s temple grounds are spacious and separated into two main precincts, the Western Precinct (Saiin Garan) and the Eastern Precinct (Toin Garan).
Address: 1-1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikaruga, Ikoma District, Nara 636-0115, Japan
Map link here
Tipped By: Makoto Fukada
Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum – Kobe
The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum was opened in 1984 in Nakayamate, Kobe. It’s the only museum of carpentry tools in Japan. It’s objective is to collect and conserve ancient tools as an example of Japanese cultural heritage, in order to pass them on to the next generation through research and exhibitions.
More than 30,500 pieces of materials have been collected so far, and the museum has held exhibitions, lectures, seminars, classes outside of the museum, and workshops on the people who make use of the tools, as well as the resulting architecture and the culture of wood that surrounds it.
The project was designed and constructed by the Takenaka Corporation in collaboration with skilled woodworkers. Be sure to allocate at least one full day, preferably two, to make your way round all the exhibits and watch all on-site video content.
Kanazawa Castle – Kanazawa
Kanazawa Castle (金沢城 Kanazawa-jō) is a large, partially-restored castle in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located adjacent to the celebrated Kenroku-en Garden, which once formed the castle’s private outer garden. It was the headquarters of Kaga Domain, ruled by the Maeda clan for 14 generations from the Sengoku period until the coming of the Meiji Restoration in 1871.
If you want to learn more about traditional Japanese splicing and connecting joints, the castle interior has several display installations where you can get up close to the technical detail.
Map link here
Tipped by: Daigo, JWA Founder
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
The Shirakawa-go (白川郷, Shirakawagō) and neighboring Gokayama (五箇山) regions line the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama prefectures. Together they form 1 of the 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan.
The main attraction of Shirakawa-go is a village of ‘gassho-zukuri‘ farm houses, which literally means ‘like praying hands‘. Tall and narrow, the houses have roofs that slope steeply to the ground— needed during the heavy snowfalls in Winter.
Each house is a masterpiece of carpentry. Built without nails—every beam slots neatly into the next. The structure is so stable that these houses have stood since the 1800s, surviving multiple earthquakes across the decades.
Map link here
Tipped by: Midori Matsumoto, Japan National Tourist Organisation
Kigumi Museum – Tokyo
If Japanese joinery is your thing, this is must-see for you. A small, interactive museum, in the heart of Tokyo, you’re encouraged to touch the displays and explore the various types of wooden joinery by taking them apart and putting them back together. The main exhibit is a 3/4 scale model of a section of the West Pagoda of Yakushi-ji Temple, Nara.
Address: 2-3-26 Nishiwaseda | Hall Eight, Shinjuku 169-0051, Tokyo Prefecture
Map link here
Tipped by: Spoon And Tamago www.spoon-tamago.com
Note: Musuem is only open 3 days per week (Tues-Thurs)
Nachi Taisha and Seigantoji Temple
Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine and Seigantoji Temple, an amazing 3 storey pagoda, comprise one of the country’s few remaining shrine-temple complexes.
In a mutually respectful manner, Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine and the neighboring Seigantoji Temple were once joined together, offering a place of worship for followers of Japan’s native Shintoism together with followers of imported Buddhism. For centuries, the buildings operated as one entity, but in the 19th-century the Meiji government forced the two religions to be separated. In the 16th Century Seigantoji Temple was rebuilt by Hideyoshi in irimoya style (hip-and-gable roof construction read more here)