IMPERIAL HOTEL

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AN ENTICING WORLD OF DISCOVERY AND ENRICHMENT. TOKYO BECKONS
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Every first and third Sunday of the month when it’s not raining, a mere three short blocks away from The Imperial lies a vast and diverse array of antique, art and curio dealers, spread out through the leafy, open air courtyard of the Tokyo International Forum from mid morning to late afternoon. Anyone with any interest in Japanese artifacts, fine art or folk art will find this colorful panorama of exotic temptations a totally fascinating experience. Stall merchandise ranges from thousands of one-of-a-kind Japanese kimono and obi fabrics, furniture, fine ceramic dinnerware, pottery and traditional dolls to whimsical, contemporary toys, exquisite lacquerwares, brushwork scrolls and rare woodblock prints - among hundreds of other uniquely Japanese objects. This antique market is one of the few places brisk bargaining is expected and accepted. A stroll through the grounds offers an eye opening look at many distinctly Japanese works of art and beauty.

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If you are interested in bonsai and want to learn more, there are places to visit where you can take in hundreds of stunning potted plants as well as try your hand at fashioning your own. One popular place to indulge your curiosity is the Shinkawa Bonsai Museum in Edogawa Ward. This intriguing style of potted landscaping and pruning is explained in introductory lectures followed by experimenting with your own creativity.

Bring your green thumb.

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Visiting Tokyo offers overseas travelers a wide choice of hands-on experiences and intriguing possibilities to encounter arts and crafts unique to Japan. Consider if you will a class in repairing chipped porcelain with gold and lacquer, using a technique favored by Japanese artisans for decades. Called Kintsugi, the process is taught in a one day session, with English available.

Potters curious to see how Japanese artists create such a wide array of different styles, clays and glazes can enjoy a first hand look at how it’s done in an atelier in trendy Omotesando. Wearing a ‘samue,’ the workwear of Japanese craftsmen, a professional instructor will demonstrate the traditional technique. Try making a chopstick-rest or a ceramic cup, learning the clay mixing and painting process in the process. Our concierge will send interested guests in the right direction.

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Japan has its own cut glass: Edokiriko, Edo being the old name for the city of Tokyo, and kiriko meaning the technique of cutting. Edokiriko began in 1834 with the production in Edo of a manufacturing method in which clear colors and delicate patterns are cut into glass. Japanese artisans were taught by a British specialist brought in to introduce cut glass technology to Japan.

Today, patterns such as arrows, chrysanthemums and hemp leaves are used either alone or in combination with stylized fish egg patterns. The colors used are vivid and clean.

Foreign visitors can observe production underway at certain studios in the old city. The concierge will be delighted to assist with arrangements.

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As the merchant culture in Edo during the Tokugawa Era spent their efforts cultivating gorgeous expressions of individual affluence in all areas of artistic endeavors, craftsmen in Edo began to challenge development of various advanced dyeing techniques.

Pattern dyeing spread as a technique to design a pattern that best suits individual dyes, so that dye craftsmen were able to dye considerably precise designs. Variations expanded by combining many patterns, and many people came to devote great expense on the culture of clothing and fashion.

Visitors interested in classical Japanese fabrics and dyeing techniques will find the activities at the time honored Futaba-en in the old time dyeing center of Tokyo’s Ochiai district worthy of an excursion to this famous atelier. You are invited to call them directly for further information. The glorious blue hues typical of Aizome Japanese indigo are pictured above.