Famed as Java's best woodcarving centre, Jepara has a long history of furniture production, which has contributed greatly to its evident prosperity. The town's fortunes inevitably wax and wane with the fashion for 'brown goods' (wood furniture) but dozens of furniture showrooms continue to make a living from the industry. Contemporary styles are possible to spot among the more ubiquitous heavy carved panels designed for the home market.
With the decline in demand from international furniture outlets, there are fewer resident expats in town, but Jepara still hosts buyers from all over the world. As a result, this is one of the more cosmopolitan towns in rural Java.
The town's broad avenues and small gangs (alleys) lined with homes that open onto back-door canals, together with the nearby beaches, make it a tranquil spot to take a break from the road. Jepara is also a major gateway to the Karimunjawa Islands.