I can’t get enough of albums, books, essays, articles and any possible kind of reference about Japanese crafts. When I travel to Japan (and other Asian countries, of course) I always research local craft workshops, zakka shops, traditional sweet shops, tea parlours etc. That’s why Craftland Japan – which I believe is, along with Handmade in Japan, the best books of 2020 on this subject – made me so happy.
Firstly, Craftland Japan is a beautiful book. The outside look was inspired by traditional Japanese obi book covers; the illustrations printed on photographic paper are interwoven with essays on matt paper – it all comes together as something truly stunning.
Secondly – and the most importantly – it’s a gold mine of knowledge and inspiration regarding traditional crafts and applied arts, although its focus is less on art in general, and more on particular artists, who cultivate ancient traditions, often continuing their family’s work of many generations.
You can’t imagine what I’d do to have the chance to visit the workshop of Masami Mizuno, who creates handmade copperware, to watch the Yanase family make washi paper, to see how indigo is farmed, or to witness how Junko Yashiro creates minimalistic works of lacquerware art.