Translated by Hilary Keyes
Beautiful Handicraft Souvenirs From Himeji - Toys, Leather Crafts, And More!
Written by Mayu
There are many amazing traditional handicrafts to choose from when shopping for souvenirs in Himeji. In this article, we introduce shops selling these products near both Himeji Castle and Himeji Station.
Souvenirs from Himeji
There are numerous famous handicrafts produced in Himeji, such as Hime leatherwork, and Himeji koma (spinning tops). You won't be disappointed if you chose one of these wonderful traditional items as a souvenir of your time in Himeji!
600 years ago, during the Sengoku era (also known as the Warring States period), both the armor worn by samurai and the saddles, harnesses and bridles for their horses were mainly made from leather, and it is believed that this was the origin of Hime leather crafting. In our modern day, these same techniques have been adapted and are now used to made durable wallets, bags and other items fit for daily use.
Hime leatherworks are known for being quite vibrant, as they often feature white backgrounds decorated with vivid red, blue, pink and other colored designs. And, through use and over time, this white background will eventually develop a patina to it, giving it a nice shine.
Himeji koma or spinning tops began being produced about 100 years ago in this region, and exploded in popularity among the children of Western Japan thanks to the ability to stay stable for a long period of time.
Although fewer and fewer children seem to play with toys like this nowadays, they are still quite popular as folk art decorations, souvenirs, and as items for the New Year.
Myochin Hibashi Wind Chimes
Myochin Hibashi, or metal chopsticks for use with braziers, are another famous regional handicraft from Himeji. While the daily use of chopsticks such as these is mainly limited to temples and shrines, sets of four when combined together are being used to create furin (wind chimes), door chimes, or are being used as interior decoration pieces. The clean, high tone of the sound they produce is sure to soothe your heart.
This is a special type of lacquerware that has been passed down by the people of the Shoshazan Engyoji Temple in Kobe. These items are known for their deep vermilion coloring. Although shoshanuri practically disappeared 150 years ago, in 1997 production of this lacquerware began anew after careful research by artisans in the area uncovered the secrets to its manufacture.
Layers of black lacquer are first built up on the piece, and are then coated with the red lacquer, through which the depth of the black is still somewhat visible; this fine variation in its shading is part of the charm of these works.
Himeji Hariko Items
Made from layers and layers of washi paper, toys, statues of animals and even festivals masks are produced using the traditional technique called hariko. These works are all handmade, and thus have their own unique warmth and charm to them.
Small items typically cost from about 600 yen upwards, while larger pieces go from 2000 yen and up; they are quite moderately priced.
Shopping Spots for Himeji Souvenirs
If you are looking for some distinctly Himeji-related souvenirs, then these are the best souvenir shops to check.
Himeji Castle Gift Shop
This gift shop located near the entrance to Himeji Castle not only has castle souvenirs, but also Myochin hibashi wind chimes, Himeyama dolls, Himeji koma, Hime leatherworks, wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), local sake varieties and many other Himeji-specific souvenirs.
Address: Hyogo, Himeji, Honmachi 68
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (later hours available in June to August)
Closed: Dec. 29th-30th
In the Shibasan building in front of Himeji Station on the first floor you will find Bansankan, a gift shop specializing in souvenirs from the Himeji and Nishi Harima area.
With everything from Hime leatherworks to local sweets, this is a shop with a great diversity in the range of products it carries. Their selection of local sake is particularly good. If you are a fan of sake, then we recommend picking up their Rokuzo sake selection, (5400 yen), which comes with different famous brands of regional sake to drink and compare.
Address: Hyogo, Himeji, Minami Ekimaecho 123
Closed: Dec. 29th - Jan. 3rd
Website: Bansankan (Japanese)
A part of the JR Himeji Station building, Piole Himeji is a great shopping center with an area dedicated to souvenirs from Himeji and its surrounding area.
Not only do the shops here sell traditional items like sake and Myochin chopsticks, but there are many restaurants where you can enjoy local delicacies like Himeji oden and the refreshing salt-based Banshu Ako ramen. When arriving at Himeji Station, it's a good idea to try out the foods and take a look around here before heading out and sightseeing.
Address: Hyogo, Himeji, Ekimaecho 188-1 (JR Himeji Station building)
Hours: 8:30-20:00 (souvenir shop)
Website: Piole Himeji
All of the shops mentioned in this article are located near both Himeji Station and Himeji Castle, making them outstandingly convenient places to shop for souvenirs. If you are looking for the perfect gift in Himeji, please consider this article to be your guide to the best shops!