Nara Ittobori: Wood-carving demonstration by Araki Yoshindo


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Also known as Nara dolls, Nara ittobori (lit. ‘one blade carvings’) are hand-carved wooden figurines chiselled from hinoki (Japanese cypress), katsura (Japanese Judas tree) or camphor trees. The wooden dolls are carefully decorated with gold leaf or colourfully painted with mineral pigments. Popular designs include deer, the twelve zodiac signs, hina dolls and designs inspired by Noh theatre and Bugaku dance.

In this demonstration, sculptor Araki Yoshindo uses the centuries-old techniques of Nara ittobori to carve wooden figurines featuring 2020’s zodiac animal, the Rat.

These demonstrations are part of a season of events held in collaboration with Nara Prefecture exploring Nara’s relationship with the Silk Road and the sacred culture of Japan. They coincide with the British Museum’s display of rare Buddhist and Shinto treasures ‘Nara: sacred images from Early Japan’.


Nara is Japan logoJapan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020 at Japan House London