tourism

Take a Sugary Dive into the World of Rakugan

Make Candy Sculptures with an Expert Craftsperson (2.5hrs)

Rakugan with beautiful gradations
Craftsperson Tomoko Ooi
Learn rakugan-making directly from an expert craftsperson
Crafting one’s very own rakugan sculpture
The beautiful gradations of Rakushindo Hompo's rakugan

Since ancient times, the Japanese people have paid respects to their ancestors and Buddha by offering rakugan, a hard candy made of two highly-valued ingredients throughout Japanese history: rice and sugar. Rakushindo Hompo is a confectionary shop that specializes in making rakugan used for religious offerings. The workshop is located in the Chikugo region of Fukuoka Prefecture, along a historical sugar trade route that stretched from Nagasaki to Tokyo during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Confectionery culture also flourished in Chikugo during the Meiji period (1868-1912), when confectioners provided sweets to coal miners in the industrializing region. Rakushindo gives an artistic update to tradition, making rakugan sculptures in over 100 different types of designs. In the Japanese countryside rich with natural beauty, enjoy a relaxing rakugan-making experience with an expert craftsperson.

  • Visit a unique workshop that creates a dazzling variety of designs and colorful gradations of rakugan sculptures
  • Learn rakugan-making techniques directly from an expert craftsperson, in the same studio where they work each day
  • Enjoy an exquisite pairing of matcha and rakugan
  • Take home the rakugan sculpture you make during the experience as a souvenir
Tomoko Ooi
Born in Fukuchi, Fukuoka Prefecture (formerly known as Kanada). After graduating high school, she studied at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo to become a fashion designer. After working in Tokyo, Ooi returned to Fukuchi in 2014 to take over the family business. She is currently the vice-director of Rakushindo Hompo.
Destination Info

Rakugan and the Culture of Religious Offerings

Rakugan are dried confections made by mixing flour and sugar, pressing them into molds, and drying them. They were introduced from China in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and became popular as sweets used during tea ceremonies. Not only sweet in taste, but also beautiful to look at, rakugan are popular all over Japan. They are also used as offerings before the Buddha during the Obon holiday and Buddhist rites. Japanese people have long had the custom of offering precious objects and gifts to Buddha before eating them, to express gratitude to one’s ancestors and Buddha. This culture of offering rakugan remains a remnant of the time when sugar was a precious commodity within Japan.

Rakushindo's rakugan is offered to a temple

Rakushindo Hompo

Unlike most confectioneries across Japan that make rakugan sweets for human consumption, Rakushindo is unique in that it specializes in making rakugan sculptures used for religious offerings, a craft that requires a particularly high level of skill and artistic sense. To make these elaborate creations, Rakushindo Hompo has developed over 200 different colors of rakugan through a process of trial and error, in contrast to a more standard set of 10 colors used by the majority of sweet makers. This variation in color allows Rakushindo to create its signature gradient designs. Rakushindo Hompo creates work in shapes and colors that reflect our modern moment, in order to pass on the beauty and spirit of this Japanese craft on to future generations.

The quaint exterior of Rakushindo Hompo
Program Contents

Making Rakugan with Artisans

Pass through the white curtains of Rakushindo Hompo and enter its tatami room in the back, upon which you will be greeted by a wide variety of colorful rakugan. While looking at these artistic creations, enjoy a break with a cup of matcha green tea paired with Rakushindo Hompo’s rakugan. Afterwards, rakugan-maker Tomoko Ooi will introduce the art of rakugan offerings.

With the help of an illustrated manual, experience the processes of coloring, shaping, and decorating rakugan sculptures. Craftspeople express their gratitude to Buddha and one’s ancestors through each and every rakugan they attach, a healing process akin to meditation. Precisely because of this simplicity, rakugan-making requires skill and sense, an art that requires immense artisanship.

Taking the rakugan out of its mould is harder than it looks
Under careful direction of an experienced craftsperson, anyone can make their own rakugan
Rakugan made in collaboration with the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime: a perfect souvenir
You can take your finished rakugan home after the experience
Tour Code GFTG01
Dates Weekdays, Every 1st and 3rd Saturday 13:00~※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.※As the workshop’s busy season runs from June to August, tour applications will not be accepted during this period.
Duration 2.5 hours
Schedule
13:55

Reception begins (Rakushindo Hompo).

14:00

Craftsperson Tomoko Ooi gives a short lecture about the workshop and her craft. Enjoy a cup of matcha tea paired with rakugan.

14:30

In the same way as the craftsperson do daily, begin the rakugan making experience (including coloring, shaping, and decorating).

16:15

Wrap up your rakugan to take home. Shopping can also be done at this time for those interested.

<Nearby Sights>

  • ※In the area of Agano, about a 10-minute drive from Rakushindo Hompo, there are many Agano ware kilns, a Nationally Designated Important Cultural Property. You can see various works made by local potters on display at the Agano Pottery Museum (closed on Tuesdays).
  • ※The Hikosan River also flows through this area, and you can visit the majestic Fukuchiyama Mountain nearby. It’s a tranquil place that attracts many mountain climbers as well.
Languages JapaneseSupplementary explanations in English via translation device or lecture board can be provided upon request. Please make a note in the message box during registration to request this service.※An English interpreter can also be arranged for an additional fee. Please contact UNA Laboratories for more details.
Participants Minimum 2/Maximum 6
Meeting Place
Rakushindo Hompo
946 Kanada, Fukuchi-machi, Tagawa-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture
Via Public Transportation
Please take the JR Fukuhoku Yutaka Line from Hakata Station, bound for Nogata Station (approx. 1 hour) to the final stop, Nogata Station. Then transfer to the Heisei Chikuho Railway, bound for Tagawa Gotoji. After riding for about 8 minutes, please get off at Kanada Station. The meeting place (Rakushindo Hompo) is about a 10 minute walk from Kanada Station.
Via Car
It is about a 1 hour 15 minute drive from Hakata. Please use the free parking located at the Fukuchi Town Hall, located in front of Rakushindo Hompo.

Rakushindo Hompo

Reservation Deadline 10 days before the start of the tour (for example, please reserve by October 5th for a tour that starts on October 15th)
Payment Method Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)
Attire No special requirements
Tour Conductor None
Note About Tour Conductors There will be no tour guide accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring cases of inclement weather such as heavy rain or a typhoon.
  • All photos displayed on the website are for illustrative purposes only. As the workshop is not a tourist attraction, please note that the degree to which guests may enter the workshop may differ from day to day.
  • UNA Laboratories and Rakushindo Hompo shall not assume any responsibility for any accidents or injuries that may occur while moving between Seikouji and Rakushindo Hompo. For those going by car, please make sure exercise extra care during your journey.
  • Guests are under 6 may attend the tour accompanied by a parent or guardian. However, UNA Laboratories and Rakushindo Hompo shall not assume any responsibility for accidents/injuries that occur in the parking lot and/or during the tour. Especially within the workshop, pleases make sure to keep an eye on younger guests.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
Cancellation Policy 3 to 1 day(s) preceding the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 100% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
Weekdays, Every 1st and 3rd Saturday 13:00~※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.※As the workshop’s busy season runs from June to August, tour applications will not be accepted during this period.
Duration
2.5 hours
Recommended Age
Suitable for All Ages
Price
8,500 yen
(includes tax and material fee)

※ Guests under 12 can accompany a parent or guardian on the workshop visit (without rakugan making) for free.