The Art of Kawara

Traditional Japanese Roof Tile Workshop

Sunday, June 11 • 11am-4pm• lower LAKE, CA

Learn an ancient craft

Kawara (roof tiles) are one of the essential elements of traditional Japanese architecture. A kawara roof gives a sense of the tradition and stateliness that authentic Japanese buildings have. Each kawara is made as pottery and has its own unique shape. It takes skilled technique to assemble them all in the correct position on a roof. These arts have been passed down for many generations.

Noted Kawara artisans from Japan are currently demonstrating their techniques on the Tenpyozan project, a Buddhist temple being built in Lake County, California in traditional Japanese style. We would like to take this rare opportunity to invite you to learn from these artisans and experience the art of traditional tiling using a model roof.

What is KAWaRA?

Kawara is a tile baked from clay. It was introduced to Japan from China in the middle of the Fourth century. On a roof, it helps prevent fire and soften noise. Especially in Japan, where there are harsh environmental changes through the seasons, it protects buildings from natural disasters and maintains their longevity.

What is the Tenpyozan project?

Tenpyozan, a Japanese-style Buddhist temple, is being built as a training monastery for Soto Zen priests, incorporating the methods that have been practiced for centuries in the founding temple of Soto Zen, Eiheiji, in Japan. The Tenpyozan buildings employ traditional Japanese architecture and carpentry. The temple is intended not only to nurture North American Zen practice by connecting training monks in the U.S. and Japan, but also to further share many aspects of Japanese culture with interested Westerners.

We would like to take this rare opportunity to invite you to learn from these artisans and experience the art of traditional tiling.

About Tatsuma Shoji

Tile Artisan & Workshop Leader

Mr. Shoji was born in Kagoshima in 1983 and raised in Kyoto, Japan. He trained for several years as a tile artisan at Daibutsu, a renowned roof-tiling company in Kyoto. He became head of the company in 2011. The company builds and renovates traditional buildings such as temples, shrines, and Sukiya-style houses in Japan, and also has done Japanese-style architecture projects overseas. He strives for excellence in his work, believing that “Kawara not only protects the buildings, but also protects the everyday lives of people in them.” His hobbies are surfing and golf.

Workshop Cost*

Includes on-site lunch
(Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions)

$20 General

$10 Students (For students in the Japanese woodworking class)

* We require participants entering the construction site to sign a standard liability release form upon arrival.


Tenpyozan Construction Site
Lower Lake, CA

(Address will be sent to participants)



For questions of more information contact