Hello! It’s Melanie, Meri’s English advisor.
Merikoti, our shop in Sumida ward, holds a zori-making workshop the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday of every month. During this workshop, one of our craftswomen helps participants make their very own pair of zori. They can choose the color and design of the zori they want to make, from a simple one-colored slipper to a multi-colored striped design. Of course, participants can also choose the strap they want as well! The workshop takes 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on the intricacy.
Although the workshop is conducted in Japanese, the most recent workshop had some participants from overseas so I was invited to interpret. It was the first time for me and the instructor to work together, so I was a bit nervous. However, her instructions were very clear and easy to understand. It’s easier to make items by hand when you’re watching someone rather than listening to a verbal explanation, and the instructor made sure to show the what she was doing.
The participants from overseas this time were from Hong Kong. It was their first time to come to Tokyo, though they had been to Japan many times before. They said that when they come to Japan, they always try to find a workshop or activity to try. One of the previous activities they did was making udon noodles in Fukuoka.
The wooden apparatus with the inner rope is prepared for participants before they arrive. The instructor then wove a few practice lines before letting the participants try themselves. The key points were to keep the inner rope wide and making sure that the two slippers are the same width and length.
Our guests expressed some frustration that they work they did wasn’t as cleanly woven as what we have for sale. However, this is to be expected, as the craftspeople that make our zori train for one year before they can make zori that is sold at our shop. Even our participants noticed an improvement between the first slipper they wove and the second.
The participants were thrilled with the final product! One decided to make simple black zori with a camouflage print strap, and the other made a cute tricolored pair.
If you’re ever in Tokyo and looking to try out a handcrafting workshop, be sure to make a reservation on our shop website for our zori making workshop!