Choose keywords





A Local Inn Continuing Regional Traditional Craftsmanship

Tours offered to experience handicrafts as a re-edit of traditional times into modern times

UNA Laboratories Inc.
(Fukuoka Prefecture)

A Local Inn Continuing Regional Traditional Craftsmanship


“Craft Inn 手 [té],” located in the Fukushima district of Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, is a local inn where visitors can experience handicrafts from the backdrop of a traditional townscape via a traditional Japanese-style house. The Japanese word “te” simply means “hand.” Yame City has long been an area where traditional craftsmanship has flourished, such as in kurume kasuri (a traditional Japanese textile technique known as “kasuri” originating from the Kurume region in Fukuoka Prefecture), Buddhist altars, Japanese washi papers, bamboo crafts, pottery, Japanese sake, and Yame tea. The inn is operated by UNA Laboratories, a travel design firm. UNA Laboratories is part of a group company with Unagi no Nedoko, a trading company based in Yame that conveys the essence of regional culture through people and products.

The building at Craft Inn 手 [té] is a townhouse that was constructed about 150 years ago and has undergone a variety of renovations. The inn has two rooms, the “Ai (Indigo) Room” and the “Take (Bamboo) Room”. Each room is fitted with furniture and fixtures designed using traditional techniques of indigo dyeing and bamboo crafting adapted to modern styles, thus allowing visitors to experience the craftsmanship firsthand. The inn also offers hands-on, craft-based tours where guests can visit workshops in the Yame and Kyushu regions and create their own works of art.

Successful outcomes

  • The inn was recognized for its efforts to support local communities and to reduce single-use plastics wherever possible. It has been awarded three stars on an overseas accommodation reservation site as a "sustainability-friendly inn."

Connecting Kyushu's craftsmanship to the future by carefully unraveling the local culture

Residents and the local government of Yame City have worked together to preserve the townscape ever since the traditional townhouses in the Fukushima district were damaged in a major typhoon in 1991. In modern Japan, there are fewer and fewer locations that feature lined earthen townhouses, making this area one of Japan’s most valuable townscapes. The construction of the Craft Inn 手 [té] building was partly covered by a grant from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as part of the townscape preservation efforts. The renovation itself was carried out in collaboration with a local townscape preservation group and UNA Laboratories. The group owns the building, and UNA Laboratories pays rent.

UNA Laboratories was founded in 2019 as a tourism, publishing, and accommodation business that offers unique, local, and cultural experiences with a focus on crafts and food in Kyushu, a region that has historical ties with countries in Asia and Europe. By working hard to understand the local culture, UNA Laboratories plans to offer a variety of tours designed as cultural experiences by visiting production areas, meeting various manufacturers, and engaging in a range of manufacturing processes.

UNA Laboratories opened Craft Inn 手 [té] in October 2021. The inn’s rooms feature furnishings designed to suit modern lifestyles created by local craftspeople. Aya Tamura, co-representative of UNA Laboratories, says, “By adding our own interpretation, we want to pass on the baton from the past to the future.”

The guidebook placed in the room introduces artisans from each craft and allows visitors to learn more about their work and thoughts as well as purchase items by scanning a QR code. Meals are prepared using local ingredients and are served in a kioke (wooden bucket) made in the local Yame area. Prices start from 22,700 yen per person for one night including breakfast (weekday rate based on 2 people per room).

Ms. Tamura says, “As a center of craftsmanship, the Yame area has more crafts used in daily life than many other areas. Crafts in Kyushu, like other regions, face challenges such as a lack of successors, but many motivated creators are willing to create interesting items through trial & error. The hope is that through craft tours, both visitors and craftsmen will be further inspired, leading to new creative ideas and activities. It’s so rewarding to see the dynamic synergies behind this movement starting to occur.”

Currently, the proportion of guests is evenly split between domestic and international visitors. The inn opened during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been gaining traction ever since. Ms. Tamura says, “In the future, we want to offer visitors who come for an overnight stay the chance to participate in craft tours in Yame and around Kyushu.”

Craft Inn 手 [té]

UNA Laboratories Inc.

Back to Home
page top