For this piece, Mr. Kiyoyuki Okuyama, a prominent internationally acclaimed car designer renowned for his work for Porsche and Ferrari, combined the art of craftsmanship of Yamagata, his hometown, with modern technology and innovative design philosophy. The Hanger with its original form of natural solid oak twisted as if driven by a screw, combined with illumination, produces an elegant interior scene.
In addition to the sculpted risqu? beauty that towers up the woven “spiral”, it combines the full sense of existence as an interior light with the functionality of a coat hanger.
The spiral structural form of the four solid oak bars is hand crafted using a unique technique. It is as if the art of craftsmanship which responded to Mr. Okuyama’s design is illuminating the beauty of Japanese tradition.
Each piece has a unique sculpture that ensures individual design and positioning of the elements.
Urushi-ring is an acrylic based ring with a lacquered top created by Masako Ban, an internationally acclaimed accessory designer. Her innovative application of materials and appreciation for Japanese craft techniques has taken her design to a new frontier. The simply designed yet profoundly deep urushi-ring distills the essence of modernism in Japanese craft work today. Manufacture requires highly skilled techniques to lacquer on the small surface of the ring. and achieving the perfect color and texture takes considerable time. After much trial and error, using different craft artists, each expert in their own acrylic and lacquer techniques, and combining the sum of their skills, she perfected this unique piece in which two materials; acrylic and lacquer, delicately complement each other. This is a ring which over time as the piece ages, the gloss and colors change subtlety and the more you can appreciate its beauty.
The pearl industry flourishes in Shima, Mie prefecture, while Ago Bay is known as the 'home of pearls'. It is also famous as the place where pearl cultivation originated.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto extracted five half-circled pearls from a pearl oyster during an experiment, proving that pearls could be cultivated from oysters. Pearl cultivation around Ago Bay in Mie prefecture really took off after that discovery.
Today, in Ago Bay eight pearl culture cooperative associations and four fisheries cooperative associations are licensed to cultivate the pearls.
Pearl culture requires several different fishing grounds for each developmental process of the pearl oyster, and it is necessary to take great care with the water temperature and to protect against red tides.
Today, pearl cultivation techniques in Mie prefecture are highly valued across the nation. The pearls are recognized for their high quality, and have received awards at national pearl culture fairs almost every year.
Wakasa Agate Work, highly regarded internationally, is thought to have originated in the Nara period (710-794AD) when a sea-faring people known as the Wani Tribe entered Onyu, an old village in the Wakasa region of Fukui Pref. They built Wani-Kaido, a road in front of a shrine, which bordered Wakasaichi Buddhist statue, and started producing jade objects.
In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a technique to burn ore and enhance the color of agate was perfected. However it was not until the Meiji period (1868-1912) that the sculptural technique of agate was introduced and perfected as a craft art.
It employs the firing techniques that are unique to Wakasa agate work and, then, hardened ores that glow with beautiful color are cut and painstakingly polished to create such things as Buddhist statues, animal ornaments, incense burners, plummets for hanging scroll, clips for obi (kimono belt), and broaches.
Wakasa agate work requires incredible proficiency and patience taking a minimum of three years to master the polishing technique and another five or six years to be able to fully work the pieces. The apprenticeship can take up to fifteen years, only then will a craftsman be considered a true artist. However, once mastered, the beauty of the clear delicate gloss can be found nowhere but Wakasa agate.
There are generally two types of scissors used in Japan; western and Japanese style called nigiri-basami. Western style scissors are mostly used for everyday situations, while nigiri-basami is superior for use during needle work. They do not have a hinge like western scissors and have open blades, so cutting a thread can be done simply in one move. Their sharp edges are suitable for detailed work, another reason they are often used in sewing.
Ubukeya is an edged tool specialty store founded in Edo period with 220 years of history. Ubukeya literally means downy hair store and was named to indicate the store selling knives and razors that can shave even the finest hair, tweezers to pick delicate hair, and scissors to cut the softest hair. Not to mention unique tweezers that were loved by stylish local folks in Edo city, nigiri-basami is highly regarded and the store has customers that have continued to patronize the store for many generations.
Nigiri-basami uses steel fashioned by hammering and is totally different from mass produced items. They are very ergonomic and, with little force, cut through a thread. Plus, the cutting blade retains its sharpness due to being manufactured from fine steel.
According to a historical record, the making of chests in the Senshu region (the southern part of Osaka Pref.) started as early as 300 years ago. In the early days boxes and simple cabinetry items were made of cork tree (Phellodendron japonicum) and paulownia that were locally obtained. From the late Edo period to the Meiji period a large producing district was formed firstly around the city of Sakai and it gradually expanded all over the Enshu region. The feature of this craft is that the straight grain of paulownia is exploited and wooden pegs and joints are used in assembly. The material boards are fully air-dried for one or two years to prevent impurities from appearing on the wood surface. Paulownia boards of more than 20 mm thick are used, and for the front of the drawers the boards with clear straight grains are selected. The wood surface is then scrubbed and polished to improve the appearance. The paulownia chest is very durable, so if it is treated carefully especially with damp, it should last for 100 to 150 years. Most of the chests are made to order now.
Kaizuka City, Osaka Pref. is said to be the oldest place where the making combs started in Japan. As legend goes, during the reign of the emperor Kinmei (the late 6th Century) a foreigner, who had drifted ashore of the present Kaizuka City, had 8 kinds of comb making tools and taught the local people how to make combs. It is said that in the middle of the Edo period there were more than 500 comb making craftsmen in the area around Kaizuka City. As Izumi comb is made of tsuge (boxwood), it causes less static electricity and less damage to hair, compared with the one made of plastic. The state-of-the-art product is made of Satsuma-tsuge (boxwood that grows in Kagoshima Pref.). Every teeth of Izumi comb is made smooth by hand. The longer you use it, the more attachment you have for its texture and hand feeling. You will comb your hair very smoothly with this comb of excellent workmanship.
Akebia vine craft is a Traditional handicraft of Aomori Pref. The cordially knotted craft warms our heart. The making of this craftwork started in the late Edo period, when the local people began to make charcoal baskets and swagger baskets of locally obtained akebia-vine as souvenirs for spa visitors of Dake Hot Spring at the foot of Mt. Iwaki. In the Meiji period, it fascinated a lot of people through domestic and overseas exhibitions. Handwork of careful knotting gives this craft the simple but warm hue and feel which can be found in nature. At present geta (Japanese wooden footgear), shoulder bags, and ornaments are also made. Various items including daily articles are favored by the people who know the “real” things.