A shakushi is a Japanese rice scoop. Today they are made from a wide range of materials and many households use simple plastic scoops. However, one of the traditional crafts of Miyajima is carved wooden shakushi. Many stores display wares made on the island, and they make excellent souvenirs because they are lightweight and do not break easily.
In honor of the craft, a giant shakushi was made by local craftsmen. It is 7.7 meters long (over 25 feet) and 2.7 meters wide (over 8 feet), made from a 270-year old zelcova tree. Called the O-shakushi, it took two years and ten months to make. It was completed in 1983, but there was no place to display it until Miyajima was named a World Heritage site and the O-shakushi found a permanent home in the Omotesando Shopping Arcade. For more information on the Oshakushi: http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/spot/spot_shamoji.html
Shakushi-making classes are offered on the third floor of the Miyajima Traditional Handicrafts Hall. Lessons are conducted in Japanese for groups of 5 or more, but have clear hands-on demonstrations. The classes cost 315 yen and last about one hour. The schedule is variable, so contact the center for more information and to make reservations: http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/pickup/experience.html