It's not too much to say that Kompleks Kraf Johor is a little heaven for arts and crafts lovers. Tucked away in a quiet corner somewhere in Larkin, this is a small craft village that hosts many talented artisans who will allow you to watch how they produce their exquisite crafts. If you're into ordering custom-made items, chances are there's someone here who can design and construct a piece for you.
My guide, Mr Safari, has been involved in an ancient traditional dance that is popular in Johor, i.e. 'Kuda Kepang' since he was a little boy. As someone who grew up in a family of craft makers, he too inherited the eyes and hands that can magically transfer many base items into high-quality novelties. Sadly, production of many craft items and traditional musical instruments are fast declining due to the sharp drop in demand. In fact, according to him, there are only a few Gambus and Angklong makers around as the young generation showed little interests in learning this ancient art.
Kuda Kepang has been interpreted in many ways and forms.
So, needless to say, I toured the whole complex and saw the many steps of producing 'Kompang' and other traditional drums. From the stretching of goat's skin to the finishing touches of colouring and tuning of the drums, you can watch in-house artists at work if you visit the complex during their operation hours from 10 am to 6 pm. They are open seven days a week. At the complex, you can find many types of crafts - of Batik, Pewter, wood, leather, rattan, textile and more. It's a one-stop craft centre with over ten exciting vendors at the site. Quality and value for money is assured.
Interestingly, a few of the retail outlets have wood folding doors - something that I saw way back in the 80's in my hometown, Muar, Johor. Now, you just don't see them anymore :(
This particular site is definitely a walk down memory lane for me.
After walking around the complex, one will need to re-hydrate and 'refuel'. Fear not, there's a food and beverage outlet that dishes out Johor's favourite dishes such as Laksa Johor, Mee Bandung, Otak-Otak and Pepes Ikan. There are 'green' rest areas too so you can enjoy your food in the garden or at some cosy corners aplenty in the complex's vast compound.
There is a small museum displaying traditional musical instruments such as Kompang, Angklung, Gambus, Gamelan and Kempling. Don't know what they are? It's time to head on to the craft centre this coming weekend!
Kompleks Kraf Johor can be discovered online too at www.facebook.com/johorcraftcomplex/