Sponsored by Nagiso Town
Experience Traditional Nagiso Rokuro: Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi
My visit to Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi near Nagiso Station in Nagano Prefecture is my first experience with the Japanese woodcraft know as rokuro. But surprisingly although Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi is located in an absolutely beautiful location in the mountains of Nagiso, and is filled with amazing works of art. These details were not what stood out to me when I first stepped out of the taxi that drove me to the storefront.
What did in fact stand out immediately was the warm welcome given to me by the store owner Mr. Matsuyama. Who I can honestly say is one of the nicest people that I have ever met. Once inside Yamaichi, I was offered fresh macha green tea. Which Mr. Matsuyama explained to me is unique because it was grown in the surrounding area. And I think it was probably the best cup of tea I have ever had. In addition to the tea, there was also a selection of Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi snacks to sample from which were sold near a wood-stove oven that provided warmth to a relaxing rest area.
Take Home a Piece of Traditional Nagiso Culture
The sales-floor of the building was warm and well lit, with all the items for sale being neatly arranged into easy to browse sections. Especially noteworthy for travelers is the sections for small items perfect for souvenirs. As well as an area for larger rokuro bowls, and sashimono furniture which was displayed along the walls of the sales-floor on tatami mats.
Rokuro is a traditional Japanese woodcraft which originates in the Nagiso area. The lumber used in the various items you will find in the store is specially selected by the craftsmen and originates in the surrounding forest area. Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi is run by Mr. Matsuyama, who has been a rokuro and sashimono craftsman for many years. The Photos below showcase two of Yamaichi’s original patented products! A chopstick holder with a removable bottom and a tea pot costar that has an indentation for holding hot tea pot lids.
Each of the expertly crafted products on display are made in house at the workshop located at the rear of the store. There are the rokuro bowls ranging from the size of your typical rice bowl to that of bowls close to 40 inches across (1meter). Each of the rokuro has its own unique color and texture which makes them one of a kind.
Other expertly crafted products
In addition to rukuro, Yamaichi also offers sashimono products. Another type of Japanese woodcraft that is equally as unique and beautiful as rokuro. Sashimono are chairs, tables, shelves and a variety of other products that are constructed without the use of nails. And instead rely on the use of puzzle piece like joints to keep them together. Furthermore Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi also has an original set of products which were invented in house. A chopstick holder with a removable base which seems to blend rokuro and sashimono techniques together in one. As well as the tea pot costar with a lid holder.
In conclusion, Rukuro Zaiku no Yamaichi is an essential stop for anyone who plans on visiting the Nagiso Area. It is the perfect stop for travelers on their was to historic Tsumago.
Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi can be reached by either taxi or bus. I happened to take a taxi from Nagiso Station to Rokuro Zaiku no Yamaichi which took about 30 minutes and cost about 4500 yen. Also, there is a bus which stops directly in front of the store which likely takes more time but is probably the budget friendly option.