There's history in the making of these dolls

Art May 28, 2016

There's history in the making of these dolls

by Shinnosuke Masuko

An artist based in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is in demand for her remarkably lifelike clay figurines of famous historical figures. Mika Takayama, 47, who lives in Sapporo, calls the 15-centimeter-tall figurines made of oven-bake clay chima chima ningyō (tiny little dolls). Takayama principally ...

The dyeing art of Japan's traditional everyday kimono

Art Mar 1, 2016

The dyeing art of Japan's traditional everyday kimono

by Matthew Larking

Weaver and dyer Fukumi Shimura's (b.1924) inherited an interest in craft from her mother, Toyo Ono, who made inroads through the early 20th-century mingei (folk crafts) movement led by philosopher Muneyoshi Yanagi. Introduced to the lacquer artistan Tatsuaki Kuroda in 1956, Shimura began to ...

'Shimura Fukumi'

Art / Openings Outside Tokyo Feb 2, 2016

'Shimura Fukumi'

by Melynie Yoneda

Feb. 2-March 21 Living National Treasure Fukumi Shimura is a master of senshoku dyeing and weaving, who brings kimono to life with colorful designs using only natural dyes derived from plants. In 2014 she was awarded the 30th Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and ...

Bringing Japanese folk dance into focus

Lifestyle Jan 30, 2016

Bringing Japanese folk dance into focus

by Midori Nishida

As with many cultures, before modernization the Japanese people relied heavily on agriculture, holding a spiritual affinity with and respecting the power of nature. Bountiful harvests were celebrated in festivities that played a significant role in community activities, and the distinctive folk rituals that ...

Dotonbori: Where Osakans eat, drink and be merry

Travel Jan 16, 2016

Dotonbori: Where Osakans eat, drink and be merry

by Stephen Mansfield

Comparing Osaka with almost any other Japanese city is akin to likening a bloodied steak to boiled chicken. Its people, a sassy, friendly breed, with a legendary, often ribald sense of humor, carry a swagger you don't see elsewhere. Unlike Tokyo, where the stranger is ...

'Gabriel Orozco: Visible Labor'

Art / Openings In Tokyo Nov 17, 2015

'Gabriel Orozco: Visible Labor'

by Daisuke Kikuchi

This show runs concurrent with Gabriel Orozco's solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, his first large-scale exhibition in Japan. During his recent stay here, Orozco created a new series of works titled "Visible Labor," featuring pieces inspired by Japanese architecture and ...

Sewing the seeds of new craft ideas

Travel Nov 7, 2015

Sewing the seeds of new craft ideas

by Daisuke Kikuchi

'I never thought I'd be taking over my father's position. At first, I wasn't even interested in the tradition of the stitching," says Sadaharu Narita, president of crafts company Hirosaki Kogin Kenkyujo. "But now that I'm in that position, I feel grateful ...

Updating tradition at Tokyo Design Week

Style & Design | ON: DESIGN Oct 31, 2015

Updating tradition at Tokyo Design Week

by Mio Yamada

Promoting Japan's artisanal history and new design Established in 2005, Tokyo Design Week has done an admirable job of showcasing Japanese creators both major and minor. Unfortunately, this year has been a bit of a let-down from past years' presentations. Much smaller in scale and ...