Promoting local regions from across the nation, Tabisuru Shintora Market is a new ongoing event outside Toranomon Hills that opened earlier this year. The current theme, named Summer Breeze, features five cities from Niigata touting their wares and local specialties.
If you’ve read our travel feature about Sanjo and Tsubame, and our metalworking experience at Sanjo’s Blacksmith Training Hall caught your fancy, you can get a glimpse of the city’s famous metalwork right here in Tokyo. Drop by the Sanjo Blacksmith Training Hall exhibition at Tabisuru Shintora Market to learn about the area’s traditional techniques. The exhibit is located inside a small black truck and is open every weekend until September 10.
For those who would like something a little more hands-on, the market hosts regular workshops in a wide variety of disciplines. So far, visitors have experienced knife-sharpening tutorials, making chopstick rests in the shape of copper leaves, wagashi-making and more. (Check the website for updates on upcoming workshops: www.tabisuru-market.jp).
Finally, if you’re itching to get your hands on some of the gorgeous crafts and similar items we focused on in our Sanjo-Tsubame travel feature, but you don’t have the time to go visit firsthand, the Tabisuru store serves as the perfect one-stop shop, offering both traditional and modern high quality crafts from Niigata. Browse their extensive selection of homewares, kitchen tools, and fashion accessories and delight in being surrounded by items crafted with love and care.
Five Must-Buys at Tabisuru Shintora Market
Here are some of our favorite items on offer from different cities around Niigata…
1. Nail Clippers from Sanjo
Once you try these, you’ll never go back to cheap, hundred yen shop snippers ever again. The differences are many, but one key point is the seamless fit of the blades when they come together. This creates a clean cut that doesn’t tear your nails apart and eliminates the need to file them. This kind of perfection can only be achieved by the keen eye and steady hand of an experienced master craftsman. For those keen on seeing the step-by-step process of making these, pop by Suwada’s open factory in Sanjo to witness artisans honing their craft.
Suwada nail clippers, ¥7,020
2. Tumbler from Tsubame
Nothing cools you off in summer like a frosty cold beverage, and what better way to keep it ice cold than in a copper tumbler? Copper is superior at keeping its contents’ temperature stable, keeping drinks cool for up to 15 minutes longer than conventional vessels made from glass. Skilled artisans hammer these wares out by hand, following a time old tradition that has lasted through the ages. On top of that, this company has won multiple awards for its modern designs as well as the longevity of its products.
Shinkoudo Tumbler (350ml), ¥6,480
3. Clutch Bag from Tokamachi
Tokamachi is renowned nationwide for its textile industry, and especially for its kimono. To celebrate this tradition, this compact clutch is made with silk kimono fabric. Each bag is a one-of-a-kind individually made item, so designs using the same fabric will differ slightly. The simple floral design gives a modern touch to this traditional craft.
Yufuan clutch bag, ¥7,201
4. Steamer from Nagaoka
This rounded, wappa-style steamer is made using the same method as it was during the Edo period, but is just as useful – if not more so – as it was 185 years ago. The whole steamer, including the lacing keeping it together, is made with wood, so the entire thing is microwaveable. The set includes a lid and stand (made with southern Japanese hemlock), the main body (Japanese cypress), a drain (bamboo) and the main body (Japanese cypress) which is laced together with sakura bark strips. The 5-sun size is the perfect size for one to two people.
Adachi Shigehisa Shoten steamer, ¥5,940
5. Hat from Murakami
Shinafu, or linden weaving, is an ancient craft that remains to this day. Usually made with the bark of Shinanoki (Japanese linden) or Obabodaiju, an indigenous tree species to Japan, fiber strips are weaved into home linens, storage bags and accessories. The process from harvest to usable strips of fiber is long and arduous, taking several months to complete. However, the inimitable nature of the supple and pliable bark, as well as how it feels good to the touch will guarantee this craft will continue. This hat is a prime example of the dedication of the artisans who practice this historic craft.
Uestu Shinafu hat, ¥43,200