Use – Polish – Connect – Remember:
From the Forests to Modern Life
When I was a child, it was custom to gift each other local handicraft items. We still have many traditional handicraft items from Akita in our house. With the rapid economic growth after the war and society’s sudden adoption of mass production and consumption, there was a change to the items people desired as well: things that are even harder to break, that stay like new forever, that are cheap and follow current trends in shape and color.
There are four officially designated traditional crafts in Akita: Odate mage-wappa (bentwood), Kabaizaiku (wild cherry bark work), Kawatsura lacquerware, and Akita cedar tubs and barrels. Any given home in Akita possesses at least one of these craft items. They are items of daily use and as such become intricate parts of people’s lives. Another thing they have in common is that they are made with resources from the forests.
Akita, too, sees itself influenced by the newly defined sustainable development goals aimed at mitigating climate change, or by global trends like upcycling and renovating. But Akita’s traditional crafts are already in complete compliance with such trends. That is one of the reasons why I want to create an opportunity to take a fresh look at local traditional crafts with regard to their role for our future lives.
Focusing on themes like ‘life,’ ‘memories,’ ‘change over time’ and others, I would like to introduce Akita’s traditional crafts as well as stories about their materials and manufacturing processes, and try to discover ways to pass them on to future users. They are items that, given occasional fixes, can be used for many generations. I look forward to discussing the inimitable beauty produced by the wear and tear of natural materials with our visitors and participants.