The Japanese word “Shokunin” can be translated as “craftsman” or “artisan”, it celebrates the sheer joy of and dedication to making something to the utmost of one’s ability. This week we're celebrating and sharing places of Japanese Influence that we love.
Japanese papers are some of the most beautiful and fine in the world. ‘Washi’ literally means Japanese paper. It’s been made for over 1,500 years using from 3 plants and trees with long fibres- kozo, mitsumata and ganpi. This is no ordinary paper, it’s incredibly durable and is used for screens, lamp shades, bank notes, origami, stationery and even umbrellas.
We love the JPP (Japanese Paper Place) who have been working with Washi since 1982. You can get lost for hours on their website exploring pattern, print and texture. https://www.japanesepaperplace.com/
Revel in the glory of Chiyogami, printed papers inspired by textile and kimono patterns. These designs include symbolic and seasonal motifs such as cranes for longevity, bamboo for flexibility, cherry blossoms for the fleeting nature of life, and pine boughs for perseverance. Or "Katazome-shi" stencil-dyed papers, printed by hand, one colour at a time, using persimmon-dyed kozo as the stencils and "Gojiru" (soy bean juice).
Book- Hokkaido Highway Blues- by Will Ferguson
As ex-pat working in a Japanese school, Will makes a bold statement to follow the cherry blossom during a sake-fuelled staff party. The idea is met with such disbelief and yet approval, that he decides to fulfil his drunken idea. He becomes the first person in 4000 years of recorded Japanese history to chase the sweep of the cherry blossom, from the southern most point of Cape Sate to snow-covered Hokkaido in the North. This humorous and insightful account of Will Ferguson’s epic hitchhike across Japan has been compared to something akin to a hybrid between Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ and the works of Bill Bryson.
Kyoto Garden, Holland Park, London
If a plane ticket and holiday time isn’t forthcoming then you can pretend to travel briefly to Japan if you visit London. The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is a little bit of Japan with it’s landscaping, carp pond, maple trees, harmonious colours and waterfalls. It opened in 1991 to celebrate the Japan festival in London but it feels timeless and tranquil.
Ceramicist- Kazunori Hamana, Japan
In his own words:
I'm a fisherman and a farmer.
I make anchovy sauce.
I live by the sea.
I find beautiful objects.
I make ceramics.
What could be better? Hamana creates irregular, enormous yet delicate pots of great beauty in his wooden framed house beside the sea. He uses natural clays and his own mineral glazes, and introduces rice and japanese lacquer.
Midnight Diner- Japanese TV mini series on Netflix
A touching anthology of stories told in a late night Tokyo diner, celebrating the healing power of food. The proprietor, ‘The Master’ cooks dishes at his customers’ request and as the meal preparation and eating progresses their individual tales and memories unfold.