In Japan we have a long history of using the natural materials around us to craft objects for everyday use. These have always been essential items, in keeping with our lifestyles and the climate and natural features of our surroundings. Such items are still crafted using the skill and ingenuity handed down by our predecessors. Yet nowadays, modern living, coupled with the ready availability of low cost synthetic materials, mean that the use of handcrafted household items has declined sharply.
To address this problem, the government passed the Densan (Traditional Industries) Act in 1974, which aims to support industries producing traditional crafts by offering financial assistance to those that meet the criteria. To meet the Densan criteria and be designated as ‘Traditional Crafts’, products should be used mainly in everyday life, largely handmade, crafted using traditional techniques and from traditionally used raw materials. Additionally, the industry should be traditional to its region. As of writing, 230 items Japan-wide have met these criteria and are officially recognised as Traditional Crafts.
In this series we take a region-by-region look at the unique features of these traditional crafts and the legacy of the skilled craftspeople who keep these precious skills alive.
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