I'm working as a freelance copywriter in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a very exciting city and always inspires me a lot.
Here, I'd like to write down what I think is interesting or just what I like
because it would tell exactly who I am.
The other day, I joined a talk session on Japanese traditional crafts at
Midtown in Roppongi.Hidetoshi Nakata, a former football player and Jun
Nakagawa, CEO of Nakagawa Masashiti shoten in Nara pref. talked about their
endeavors to promote Japanese traditional crafts. It was very interesting and thought
provoking for me.
Nakata, known as a “traveler,” said he had just finished his trip visiting
artisans, sake breweries and other local traditional craft centers in all 47 prefectural
regions in Japan.I have been
wondering why a former world-class football player got interested in Japanese
crafts.I couldn't wrap my head
around it.However, my uneasy
feelings finally cleared up when I heard his explanation.
Nakata said that he realized he didn’t know anything about Japan at all when
he was asked about Japan, as he worked outside of the country.All the more reason, he wanted to know every
inch of Japan and started visiting manufacturing people after he quite playing
football.I think it’s his honest
feelings and I also sometimes feel the same way.It’s a shame we really don’t know about our country.
Nakagawa is the 13th generation of a traditional company with
300 years of history.Born in a family
of linen fabric makers, he considered the future of Japanese crafts, which
seemed to be disappearing due to the lack of successors and the change of
people’s lifestyles.Now, he has
been enthusiastic about revitalizing traditional crafts.And his company is growing enough to
have a flag shop in Aoyoma, Tokyo.
The chemistry of these two people was very interesting. Though their standpoints are different, there
are some similarities between them.What impressed me most is their claim that Japanese traditional products
wouldn’t be sold overseas unless customers understand the cultural background,
or how the products have been used in traditionally in Japanese.
For example, Japanese wooden products and urushi lacquer products are
beautiful but it’s a bit difficult to maintain their good conditions if people
leave them in low ambient humidity, as in Europe.
If we want to expand the traditional crafts market worldwide, we should
export the history of the products as well so that the prospective consumers
would keep using them as long as possible.Otherwise, Japanese crafts would be recognized just a souvenirs.
If I were asked what period of
Japanese history do you like best, I would say it would be the Azuchi Momoyama
period (1573-1603) because many unique and innovative people appeared in the
era such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Sen no Rikyu.
Oda Nobunaga was a war load who
completed the way to unify the nation and promoted the merchandising by opening
a new market without taxes.Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born as a son of a peasant and climbed up the
social ladder and finally reached the top.Sen no Rikyu completed the tea ceremony as an ultimate
art.He created the new concept of
art called “wabi,” a state of calm, quiet subtlety, which avoids being gaudy or
showy.What a gorgeous era Aduchi
The name of “Azuchi” in Azuchi
Momoyama period comes from the castle’s name, which Oda Nobunaga built in
azuchi-cho, Shiga prefecture.I’ve
wanted to visit the castle for many years and finally I did.
To tell the truth, there is no
castle there.Unfortunately, the
castle was burnt down three year after it was built, when Oda Nobunaga was
assassinated by his senior statesman.All we were allowed to do is just look at the stone walls and imagine
The remains of the castle stand
beside Lake Biwa.At the opposite
side of the lake, you can see Mt. Hieizan, in which Enryakuji-temple is
located.Over the mountain is
Kyoto, the ancient capital city.Oda Nobunaga must have looked at the scene everyday and accumulated his
ambition to unify the nation and beyond.It’s nice to deepen my understanding of the history geographically
here.I think there is something
that we can feel only when we come the site.