Various types of traditional crafts and their histories have matured on this small Eastern Island, Japan. Today, many global high-fashion brands use textiles that were made in Japan – people also travel to Japan from overseas, seeking to experience the dazzling glamour of traditional Japanese craft.
On another note, how much do we, as customers, know about the creators of these products? Their narratives are built upon their predecessors’ philosophies and years of discipline that lead to their refined skills today, which are sadly hidden under the rapid change in the market.
Through this project we want to: 1) Bring the artisans to the front world and allow them to tell stories about themselves to their fans, 2) Have the world appraise the artisans as well as their products, and 3) One day see some young people walking on Shibuya High Street passionately talking about Japanese artisans that they know about. Shitateya-To-Shokunin is a project which aims for a world where the rich context of Japanese craftsmanship is understood by people from all around the globe so that the project becomes an inspiration for many craftsmen on this planet to nourish the world with their unique creativities.
CREATIVE "GARDEN", Takayuki Ishii｜
Art direction, Graphic design, Storytelling
Craft making, Fashion design
CONCENT INC, Keita Furusawa｜
Produce, Strategy planner
BCAA, Daisuke Horide｜
Advisor, Business incubation, Export
What impressions do you get when talking about Japanese traditional crafts? High skills? Very detailed? Then how about when we talk about the craftsmen? Would it be like strict, awe, or even “status-conscious”? These days, a large number of historical Japanese craft houses close down due to the shortage for their demand in the market. Whilst a majority of the craftsmen struggle with this adversity, very few of them are featured by other craft houses and find a new way of surviving in another environment. We believe that the actual spoken words by the artisans can give both the culture and artisans higher values – to achieve this target, a welcoming threshold is needed to invite people into the artisans’ world.
Work-wears to attract audiences.
"I want a work-wear so I can always recognise myself as a Hariko craftsman." Mr. Shoichi Hashimoto, the 21st generation of Dekoyashiki Daikokuya, contacted us with this proposal. Dekoyashiki Daikokuya has an over 300 years old atelier in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture. The famous Daruma dolls are created by the Hariko method. The work-wear must be functional as well as to have a good design.
Shitateya-To-Shokunin stayed at their atelier for four months to study the processes of their work, their working environment and the voices of the artisans. Mr. Hashimoto often stands on two different stages; one is at their store, and another is at their public events. We came up with a reversible work-wear to suit his needs, using Aizu-cotton.
by Hariko makers, "harico."
There used to be traditions in Japan regarding the owning of Hariko products, such as Daruma, and nowadays fewer people own these products within their household.
Handmade Hariko buttons were sewed onto the work-wear. This subtle detail provides an opportunity to start a conversation about this traditional craft between artisan and a customer. The line-up developed from buttons, piercings and then tie tack pins, and the collection then turned into a bespoke accessory brand "harico".
harico is made with the same method as Hariko making. The colour naturally comes from Japanese paper, and the products are coated with Urushi and Beeswax which makes all products waterproof. The pulp of Japanese papers clench with each other so that they prevent the harico from splitting.
Nagahama Silk Future Conference
Shitateya-To-Shokunin moved to Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, in summer 2017. Since then, we have contributed to the Nagahama silk industry, especially to the textile fabrication "Hamachirimen". This local crafts industry began in the mid-Edo period, and peek of the production for Hamachirimen was 1972. From then onwards, the number of fabrication companies and their production levels have dramatically decreased towards 2018 (1.85million to 40thousand).
Over 40 participants, who were artisans from the Nagahama silk industry, council members, local residents and diverse talents from outside of the city, were invited to the first attempt in order to explore the DNA of this traditional craft of silk. The contents included were
1) A lecture about the potential of the material and the history of the industry
2) An active workshop to find out the pros and cons of this craft
3) An idea development and a presentation (led by Keita Furusawa)
After all the process, nearly 500 pros and cons and over 300 ideas were raised throughout the presentation. We pushed forward some ideas from this conference onto the next stage.
We revealed some common problems amongst the traditional crafts industry through dialogues with the artisans.
1) They have suffered from something within their working environment for a while, but it is unclear what it is.
2) They have tried to create something new by using subsidy within this blurry situation.
3) Although they created some new products, they hardly blossomed due to the lack of clarity in the messages within these products.
4) Time consumption and economic crisis tied up their capability to challenge further steps.
5) Most of them do not have the ability to communicate in languages other than Japanese.
Collaboration with those who can cover the points could help them make the situation that they are in better. The expertise of Shitateya-To-Shokunin, such as in designing, translating, producing, marketing and exporting, is the main role in this project.