Come and Stay at the Arts and Crafts Village!

If you want to get off the beaten track and hoardes of tourists and immerse yourself in the nature,
lifestyle and essence of True Japan, then a visit to the Arts and Crafts Village in Okayama-ken is for you.

    photo by Prue Simmons

       Picture this: A small winding road - only big enough for one car at times, winds its way through the thick forests of the mountains,
with towering cedar and fir trees forming a dense shadowed landscape on either side of the narrow bitumen.
Occasionally the view opens up to show hills blanketed in trees or the vivid green of rice paddies or Japanese tea fields.
Small villages and hamlets are dotted throughout the landscape,
often consisting of only a few houses surrounded by vegetable patches and small rice paddies.           
The road keeps winding down through the hills, with sharp turns, twisting its way to the valley at the bottom.
         It goes over a small bridge and follows a babbling creek to a tiny hamlet.
In this hamlet there is an old wooden schoolhouse, two storeys, with paned windows and a blossoming creeper climbing the walls over weathered white paint.
A rambling garden surrounds it,
with thickly forested woods behind and the creek gurgles and gushes beside it...

  The school house is now an Arts and Craft Village, run by the wonderful Toyomi Harada.
                  Artists from all over the world journey here to work on their art or to learn from other experts.
           People from all walks of life come and stay to do workshops with Toyomi on Saori weaving, wool spinning and natural dyeing.

       The place just oozes charm, with its long wooden halls and old classrooms.
The classrooms (complete with blackboard) are now charming guest bedrooms and three delicious meals are served on the patio or in the dining room.
So, where once children learned and played, artisans now come to learn and create in this rustic atmosphere.
This place is a haven of creativity and solitude and a lifestyle you won't see on the tourist's path.
 Let your creativity soar as you learn how to do Japanese Saori weaving and create your own handmade woven items.
Or perhaps you'd like to give the ancient art of Indigo or Sakura (Cherry blossom) dyeing a try?
Under the guidance and wonderful hospitality of Toyomi-san, it will be a hands-on Japanese experience you will never forget!

There are also many amazing local onsens, hiking paths, temples and other local attractions nestled amongst these hills.
Toyomi can pick you up from the train station and by bus it takes only 2 and half hours from Osaka.

An overnight stay, complete with 3 hearty home-cooked Japanese meals, weaving instruction and accommodation costs just 20,000 yen,
discounts are available for groups over 3 people.

A place of peace, beauty and creativity, your stay here will be an experience you will never forget!

 by Prue Simmons 


The Story about Arts&Crafts Village

By Philippe Brooks

Deep in the heart of Okayama is a small village by the name of Naka.
It has suffered the same fate as many small Japanese village in that it has become depopulated, as the younger generations have become increasingly attracted to the bright lights of the big cities.
The story of Arts & Crafts Village however, begins in 1986 when Toyomi and Yasu, a young couple from Osaka , both salaried white collar workers, became disenchanted with the lifestyle that Osaka had to offer.
As a result Yasu Nagao, resigned from his job and enrolled in a local technical college in order to follow up an interest in woodworking.
Toyomi, continued working but followed suit in a similar fashion by commencing part time studies in weaving.

Yasunori Nagao   Yasu's bench

After Yasu completed his studies they headed for the hills and built a log cabin on some rented land.
Yasu commenced his woodworking business and together they embarked wholeheartedly on an alternate type of lifestyle.
The next four years was only punctuated by a year long visit to England and Europe, during which time Yasu studied with some renown British woodworkers, namely Alan Peters and the craftsmen of Edward Barnsley's workshops.
Edward Barnsley being the son of one of the pioneers of the Arts & Crafts movement.
During this priod abroad Toyomi also continued with her interest in weaving by investigating the many facets of textile crafts.
DevonToyomi NagaoToyomi's blouse
Back in Japan it was in late 1991 that they came to learn about a small country school that was about to close down through lack of students.
They sensing an opportunity, approached the town council with an idea to turn the school into an arts & crafts centre.
The town council welcomed the plan in the hope that it may breathe some life back into the village.
As a result Arts & Crafts Village was born. A mere 5 month later, ( the time of this writing) Yasu and Toyomi have achieved much.
Toyomi's weaving workYasu's table and chairschair in A&C village
The one time school now has extensive workshops for both woodworking and weaving, 4 large guest rooms and a tea room/gallery that houses craftwork from all over Okayama and its neighbouring states.
A variety of work has also been imported from England, made chiefly by the friends they established there during their visit.
The village itself is a sleepy little place but rich in natural beauty.
Nestled in a small valley with a stream running through its midst, and the odd thatched roof still surviving, it is the epitomy or rural Japan.
wisteriaA&C VillageKinjiro Ninomiya
A&C Village welcomes visitors from both Japan and abroad.
There is also the possibility of craftspeople being given bed and board in exchange for conduction workshops in their chosen field.
An exciting opportunity for foreign craftspeople considering the otherwise high cost of a visit to Japan.
Perhaps another benefit for foregin visitors is that both Yasu and Toyomi are well of imformation on Japanese arts and crafts and as equally important they are both conversant in English.
Debiiron sculptureRon's concert
Although A&C Village is in rural Japan it is still quite central, Osaka being under three hours away, Hiroshima about two and the craft centres of Bizen and Kurasiki around an hour half each.

Philippe Brooks 1992

For further imformation please contact,

3090 Naka , Misaki cho,
Kume gun , Okayama
709-3407 JAPAN

e mail


cat   Philippe Brooks is an Australian woodworker based in Perth.
He stayed at Arts&Crafts Village as the first guest craftman in 1992. He has also accepted many Japanese young apprentices in his workshop in these years. He wrote an articles titled " A MODERN DAY JOURNEYMAN" to Australian Wood Review in 1998 (Issue 18) introducing Arts & Crafts Village and reflects his experiences working as a furniture maker in Japan. He also teaches woodworking at the Forest Heritage Centre.


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