Crafts collective opens up studio


The artisans of the Akeppiroge crafts collective will open up their homes and studios for the only time this year to visitors for an exhibition event to be held May 12-14 in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture — a small scenic city on the western shore of Lake Biwa. Visitors are welcome from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Crafts on display will include a variety of ceramics, natural dying and textile arts, woodworking and lacquer ware, calligraphic arts, metalwork, and glass.

The Akeppiroge collective began in 1998 and now includes 13 members, almost all of whom are nationally-exhibited craftspersons. During Akeppiroge’s annual open studio/home event, visitors enjoy viewing both the artists’ homes, which range from thatch- to tile-roofed to prefab, and the natural environment in which the crafts are created. A guest might be able to see, for example, locally harvested mugwort and handmade felt that will later be dyed green bubbling away in the same pot.

Takashima’s combination of both rugged utilitarianism and natural beauty has inspirational effects on the craftwork of Akeppiroge members. Shimei Kumekawa, a 54-year-old dyer, discovers new colors each season, as well as in every bit of scenery around him.

Koichi Yamaguchi, 52 and a metalworker, laments the rapid advance of materialism that separates modern Japanese from the “world of the heart” he finds in his craftwork.

Yoshiki Tateishi, a 54-year-old ceramic artist, says that nowadays life is reaching uncomfortable extremes for both wealthy and poor in Japan. The independent, nature-loving lifestyle of Akeppiroge members, however, provides a healthy counterpoint for modern ills as an expression of the true meaning of richness.

The closest station to Takashima is Adogawa Station, about one hour from Kyoto Station by train on the JR Kosei Line. A car (or daylong taxi rental) is the best way to get from studio to studio as they are spread out over approximately 15 km of countryside.

To receive a map of the Akeppiroge homes by mail or fax, contact Mr. Yamaguchi at 0740-33-0179. He asks that non-Japanese speakers contact him at this number by fax only. Maps will also be available during the event, so feel free to simply pick one up on site. For local sightseeing information see www.city.takashima.shiga.jp/index.html