Trading the concrete neon jungle that is Tokyo for the forested plains of Asahikawa was a much needed breath of fresh air and change in pace for the trip.
For one, I was in dire need of some fresh produce after days of meat and ramen. The dairy products and vegetables here are especially good!
Second of all, this area is literally the place for anything wood related and it has been nothing short of inspiring.
北の嵐山 Kita no Arashiyama is a little town on a hill full of craft shops and studios that make ceramics, glass art and some woodwork. The whole place is flourishing community, can you imagine living next to a store like this?
Brown Box was a shop that I really enjoyed. A two-storey house that shows how one can display and live within a space utilising these wooden objects. From clock to cups, one can pick them up and immediately sense the amount of care and respect with which each item was carefully made and crafted. And of course, the quality of each woodcraft technique is indisputable.
One of the makers had this phrase on their catalogue, which went something like, “To create an object that lasts 100 years from a tree that took a 100 years to grow.” I really really like that kind of philosophy and attitude they embody!
To create the best product for the person who buys it home without shortcuts can only stem from a deep sense of integrity to both the material and the process. That’s the kind of craft pride the Japanese have.
Here up north, Asahikawa has been home to traditional wooden furniture making and woodcraft in Japan. Being close to both a plethora of different types of wood and to traditional woodcraft schools, the industry continues to balance traditional techniques and contemporary design. One of the company managers said that he chose this very place because he believes the best furniture is made in the midst of nature here!
Another company manager mentioned that the goal shouldn’t just be about clinching sales but it also encompassed educating their potential customers about their process, design and why they were paying that amount for a piece of furniture.
Absolutely unwavering in their pursuit of quality and moving design forward as a whole country. My respect for Japanese makers has now reached new heights!
Thank God for this insightful sharing from makers and for this precious chance to step into the place where they work passionately.