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Traditional Skills and Techniques
in Kyoto State Guest House

The construction of Kyoto State Guest House encompasses a wide range of traditional artisanal skills.
Across every facet of the interior, understated yet refined details reflect the expertise of skilled artisans.

Traditional skills and techniques used in construction (11 types)

A photo of the side of a building. The building has a large glass wall, and the overhanging roof is carefully constructed with intricate woodworking.

Carpentry (Sukiya-Style)

Sukiya-style carpentry is characterized by the use of natural materials. It requires very delicate and precise woodworking technique and a good sense of selecting and combining diverse types of wood to create a balanced and harmonious space.

A photo of a smooth, earthen wall illuminated by a floor lamp. Two benches are placed in front of the wall.


Earthen wall and plaster coating techniques.
In particular, applying Kyosabi-tsuchi (iron-rich clay) on the wall demands exceptional mastery due to the numerous processes involved.

A photo of a hallway with tatami floors, Japanese sliding doors on the right, and sliding doors with shoji (rice paper) on the left.

Japanese Fittings

Movable structures such as shoji sliding screens and sliding doors attached to an opening.
They can freely define the space between rooms and can change the atmosphere of a room.

A photo of three free-standing sliding doors, each covered with white karakami paper with the State Guest House's paulownia seal.


The art of mounting Japanese paper or karakami (thick Japanese paper) to sliding doors and walls, enhancing the refined beauty of Japanese architecture.

A photo of a room with large tatami mats, facing a large window looking out on a garden.


Traditional flooring mats that are an essential element of a Japanese-style room.
Kyoto State Guest House uses tatami mats made with the time-honored weaving technique of nakatsugi-omote in which igusa rush grass is skillfully joined in the center of each tatami mat.

This photo is taken with a nail head covering from Juraku no Ma at its center. The nail head covering is black in color, and is made in the shape of a thousand year knot, as if many loops of string were bundled together.

Decorative Metal fittings

Metal fixtures used for both reinforcement and ornamental purposes in various construction aspects, such as nail head covers and sliding door pulls.

A photo of a traditional, Japanese-style room with a large, dark, glossy table in the center.


Natural paint known as urushi in Japanese.
It is made from the sap of the Japanese sumac tree.
The lacquered surface develops a deeper patina over time.

A photo of intricate silver and gold patterns inlaid onto the surface of a wooden panel.

Kirikane (Cut Gold Leaf Work)

Decorative technique in which several sheets of gold or platinum leaf are stuck together by heating, and cut into thin strips.
These strips are delicately handled with brushes and pasted into various patterns.

A photo of the Kyoto State Guest House's central garden, with a large pond in the center, willow tree to the right, and a covered bridge in the distance.


Designed to seamlessly blend the garden and the building, the meticulous landscaping creates a superb view from every room and every angle when seen from the interior.

A photo of a glowing stone lantern by the Kyoto State Guest House pond. A red maple tree branch extends into the center of the photo.


Stonework, such as lanterns, serves as enhancements to the ambience of traditional Japanese architecture and Japanese style garden.

A photo of a bamboo fence.

Bamboo Fence

Functional and decorative enclosure made up of bamboo that serves as a partition or privacy screen inside the garden.

Traditional skills and techniques used in furnishings (14 types)

A photo of a black lacquer cabinet on the floor of a tatami room.


Natural paint known as urushi in Japanese.
It is made from the sap of the Japanese sumac tree.
The lacquered surface develops a deeper patina over time.

A photo of a gold and silver design in the shape of plant leaves on top of a black lacquered surface.

Maki-e Lacquerwork

Classic Japanese lacquer decoration technique in which gold, silver or colored powders are sprinkled on top of motifs drawn with lacquer on the surface of a vessel.

A photo of a geometric pattern of mother-of-pearl inlaid in the shape of many triangles within a larger circle onto a black surface.

Raden (Mother-of-Pearl Inlay)

Traditional decorative technique in which the mother-of-pearl layer of shells is thinly sliced, cut into various shapes, and embedded or pasted onto a lacquered surface to create a variety of expressions.

A photo of a gold metal fitting with an intricate zig-zag pattern.

Decorative Metal fittings

Metal fixtures used for both reinforcement and ornamental purposes in various construction aspects, such as nail head covers and sliding door pulls.

A photo of a gold metal piece attached to a smooth, black surface.

Hammered Metal Embossing

Technique of hammering a single sheet of metal to create an embossed object. (Cabinet handles in the photo.)

A photo of a black chair with a purple, patterned seat cushion, and gold fittings on its feet.

Metal Casting

Metal crafting technique in which molten metal is poured into a mold and cooled to produce tools and works of art. (Chair leg bottoms in the photo.)

A woven flower vase is in the center of the photo. The vase's design is made with countless bamboo strips woven together. The vase is in the shape of a jar, but the top is made to open wide to accomodate flowers.

Bamboo Work

Technique of weaving bamboo to make baskets and other functional and decorative items.

In this photo, a paper lantern set on the floor emits warm light in the dim hallway. Just behind the lantern are sliding paper doors. The lantern's design is evocative of origami.

Wood Joinery

Intricate technique for crafting objects such as lighting frames by assembling pieces of wood together without using any nails.

A photo of the wooden back of a chair, carved with the emblem of the State Guest House. Behind the chair hangs a tapestry of the mountains of Kyoto.

Inlaid Woodwork

Decorative woodworking technique where intricate patterns and images are carved into a wooden base and then inlaid with different types of materials in the carved area. (The emblem part in the photo.)

A photo of a seat cushion with an intricately embroidered red-orange textile.

Nishijin Textile

Traditional silk textile from the Nishijin district of Kyoto, woven with exceptional techniques and aesthetic senses passed down since ancient times, involving intricate processes.
Among the various types of Nishijin textile, yusoku-ori is a particularly high-quality textile that requires exquisite techniques.

A close-up photo of a screen. Wisteria, chrysanthemums, and lotuses are embroidered onto evenly-spaced strips of cloth known as nosuji.

Ra Gauze

Thin, mesh-like silk fabric woven with extremely fine threads.

A close-up photo of white and gold flowers embroidered onto white fabric.


The art of decorating silk and linen fabrics using silk, gold, and silver threads using traditional artisanal methods.

A white braided cord hangs in the center of the photo, its center tied in an intricate knot.

Braided Cord

Traditional Japanese cord featuring beautiful colors and patterns crafted by braiding threads.

A photo of the glass window of the State Guest House, decorated with a metal State Guest House logo. The Guest House gate is reflected in the glass.


Technique for decorating a metal base by baking a glassy glaze over it.

To learn more about the traditional artisanal skills featured on this website, watch the videos created in collaboration with universities in Kyoto Prefecture on our YouTube channel. These videos are shot, interviewed and edited by students.