Gripped Sumi Experience

Holding History in Your Hand

At Kinkoen, we offer guests the opportunity to feel the true texture, softness, and warmth of raw Nara Sumi ink in their very own hand.

The stick of Nara Sumi in the palm of your hand is still fresh and raw, simultaneously solid, soft, and pliable. It forms to your hand and fingers as you squeeze it, a kind of self-portrait of you and your hand on this day. The ink’s deep black color is the result of an ancient process that was first brought to Nara from China 1,400 years ago, the end of the line along the long Silk Road. Since then, hard blocks of Nara Sumi have been mixed with water and rubbed to create a natural ink, used in nearly every form of writing, including calligraphy. Taking the time to rub the ink calms the mind before writing by hand, a process in which the body and mind can move in unison to express themselves.
That is what is in your hand when you grip Nara Sumi. Hidden in this ink are 1,400 years of thoughts and expressions. It is as if, just for a brief moment, you and your hand are reaching back through all those centuries to when Nara was the capital of Japan, and this ink was as fresh on this land as it is in your hand.

  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience
  • Gripped Sumi Experience

Experience Content

The experience lasts 30~40 minutes, and includes the following content.

It is available from 9:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m. Please let us know if you would prefer a different time. Individual guests are always welcome, so please feel free to stop by.

At this time, our workshop is taking the following precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections.
1. Our staff will always wear a mask.
2. Disinfectant alcohol spray is readily available.
3. We keep the inside of the workshop well ventilated.
4. We are limiting reservations to only one group at a time.
*Please understand that depending on the weather and other circumstances, some of these things are subject to change.

  • STEP 01
    History of Nara Sumi and the Present

    History of Nara Sumi and the Present

    We will talk about the history of Nara Sumi, a traditional craft that has been passed down since the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), and the reality that traditional ink shops face today.

  • STEP 02
    Introduction of Materials and Actual Demonstration

    Introduction of Materials and Actual Demonstration

    After introducing all of the materials that go into making a stick of ink, an artisan will use a press and blocks to demonstrate how raw ink is shaped. This step allows you to understand how soot from burned oil or wood becomes characters on a page. It is a chance to see a traditional art of Nara right before your eyes.

  • STEP 03
    Experience Gripping Nara Sumi

    Experience Gripping Nara Sumi

    As the artisan teaches you, you can feel the fresh, raw ink’s softness and warmth as it takes shape inside your hand. Don’t worry, your hand won’t get very dirty.

  • STEP 04
    Take It Home in a Paulownia Wood Box

    Take It Home in a Paulownia Wood Box

    Your gripped Nara Sumi will need time to properly dry, so please store it in a cool place out of direct sunlight, and don’t open the box for three months.

Gripped Sumi Experience

Pricing

The basic plan includes the Gripped Sumi Experience, a tour of the workshop, and an explanation of Nara Sumi.

  • Gripped Sumi Experience

    Gripped Sumi Experience
    ¥1,500 per person (+tax) This price includes the Paulownia wood box.

  • Options

    • Paste a Gold Leaf

      Add a Gold Leaf
      ¥500 (+tax)

    • Experience Calligraphy

      Experience Japanese Calligraphy
      ¥500 (+tax)

  • Payment Method

    We accept cash and credit cards.

Application for the Experience

Reservations are required for the experience. Since we need time to prepare, please make reservations by 9 p.m. the previous day.

Application Form

Please fill-in the required fields below and press send. We will respond within three business days.

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Preferred TimeMandatory Items Date: Time:
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Other Information
Mandatory ItemsPlease confirm your information, check the box, and click send.
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