You have just finished exploring the shrines and temples of Nikko and are wondering what would make the best omiyage to give to someone special back home or keep for yourself. With so many gift shops in the area, you are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to shop for souvenirs. Still, there is one shop that stands above the rest. It offers something truly unique not only to Nikko, but something that is a rare treat for all of Japan. Best of all is that almost anyone would be thrilled to receive one of the treasures inside. Dragon Art Kousyuuya is a small shop specializing in personalized dragon art. Before I go into the detail of the art, the question you may be wondering is why dragons?
As if just being cool was not a good enough reason in itself, an English flyer at the shop explains:
Dragons are considered to be similar to guardian angels. They are talismans against evil and bring good luck. For ages they have adorn Shinto shrines and temples.
Pictures of dragons are also believed to bring good luck, good fortune and family security.
The shop only does dragon art, but does it very, very well. The works of art are special because they are personalized and made right in front of you in just about 15 minutes. You choose the size, design, color, and kanji character. The kanji characters have meanings of protection, good luck, etc. There is a list of corresponding English meanings. The artwork itself is very reasonably priced and there are frames available at the same store. Your smaller-sized personalized souvenir with frame will generally cost around 9000 yen. Prices increase if you want (luckier) white, silver, or gold dragons. Without frame, you can get a small size for as little as 2500 yen. The price may seem like a lot, but once you see the level of skill and consider this is likely to be something you or your gift recipient can keep for a very long time time you'll just want to have one...or more.
Dragon Art Kousyyuya is right next to Nikko Kyodo Center Mae bus stop, or a fifteen or twenty minute walk from Tobu Nikko Station and Nikko Station respectively. If walking from the stations, the shop is on the right, along the main street heading to the famous temples and shrines. Look for the dragon pictures in the window.
For something different, artistic, and just plain cool to see or buy, make sure to stop by Dragon Art Kousyuuya. Want a dragon, but can't make it to Nikko? The store also sells their legendary dragons on their website here (Japanese only).
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Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is a long-term resident and promoter in the Tohoku region. He has been a content producer for JapanTravel.com since 2012 and was the Miyagi Prefecture Regional Partner 2013-2015. Justin’s over 300 published travel and culture articles come from a background of studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and working for the government in Fukushima. He lives in the gyutan capital of the world, Sendai. Justin is an expert in local culture and history. He was the first foreign volunteer at Sendai City Museum and regularly advises the local volunteer guide group GOZAIN , which he is a veteran member, on guiding techniques and hidden locations in the city even locals don't know about. In his free time he enjoys delivering original walking tours, such as his Dark Sendai Tour (ghost tour) or Kokubuncho Mystery Tour (redlight district tour). Justin is also a Certified Sake Professional.