TOPExperience Traditional Japanese Arts Along the Toden Arakawa Line

Experience Traditional Japanese Arts Along the Toden Arakawa Line

By Lisandra Moor

The Tokyo Sakura Tram, formerly known as the Toden Arakawa Line, is the last functioning streetcar in Tokyo, running from stations Minowabashi to Waseda, with no less than 48,000 people using it to commute every day. In an effort to promote this small remaining piece of Edo, TOEI and Airbnb have teamed up to offer five unique hands-on experiences of Japanese arts and crafts. Fans of history and traditional arts rejoice!

This project, with the purpose to share the “life along the tracks”, particularly caters to tourists, offering activities with guidance in Japanese and in English. With most of the workshops working with fabrics, visitors with good dexterity and precision will have a great time, but even the clumsiest of hands will be surprised with what they can accomplish with a little help from experts.

Fashion enthusiasts have the opportunity to sew their very own shingenbukuro, small cloth bags that peaked in popularity during the Meiji Era. They can be used as wallets, or to keep small trinkets or anything that’ll fit. For true minimalists, they can even be used as handbags. If sewing isn’t your strong suit, you can handpaint your own tote bag using yuzen dyeing techniques said to trace back as far as the 17th century.

For musicians, a shamisen performance experience is hosted with the collaboration of Kinji Kato, a professional shamisen player and holder of an Important Tangible Property recognized by the Japanese government. The traditional string instrument has been around since the 16th century, and is used to accompany noh and bunraku theatrical plays. Visitors can learn and perform a short musical piece in front of their fellow classmates, only for a fraction of the price of a normal lesson.

Finally, it’s hard not to mention Japanese doll-making when talking about traditional crafts. With a second collaboration, this time with husband and wife Shigeo and Yoshie Takenaka, you can put together your very own card case using spare materials used in doll-making. The Takenakas carry a 100-year-old legacy of ishoningyo, so everybody attending the workshop gets to experience a little piece of history.

For those preferring things that have to do with dollhouses, they can craft their own house accessories or “minis.” The teacher is a fellow lover of food, and can help you create a miniature tonkotsu ramen bowl to bring back home. And there really is nothing better than a personalized and hand-crafted keepsake.

Learn more about the workshops and and find booking information here.