I am just wrapping things up here ready to fly to Japan first thing Thursday. I shall be busy hewing timber all day whilst there but Nicola will be busy recording, photographing, and hopefully blogging on the kesurokai blog here On Saturday I should be at the work site close to Mount Fuji with these folk, ready to start building a traditional Japanese Tea house and European timber frame building entirely with hand tools.
I have wanted to visit Japan ever since reading Soetsu Yanagi's "The Unknown Craftsman; A Japanese Insight into Beauty" the book helped me understand better the humble traditional craft that I admired and gave a sort of semi academic framework, or at least an intellectual language, to describe it. I have since learnt a lot about how traditional crafts are supported and valued in Japan through organisations such as the association for the promotion of traditional craft industries. and marketed through organisations like Edocraft
The Japanese system of valuing traditional craft also formed the model for UNESCO's 2003 convention on intangible cultural heritage.
The event we are part of however is another organisation altogether, kesurokai was set up in 1995 by highly regarded master carpenter Sugimura san as a way of exchanging skills and ensuring crafts are kept vibrant and alive. My only regrets are that we have so little time to get a taste of Japan. I would have loved to visit Mashiko and to have had time to work with my Japanese turner friend Tomio but sadly the time schedule of this exchange is tight and neither were possible. It will be a great cultural experience though I am sure and look forward to sharing photos when I am back.
As an environmentalist I try to limit my flying and this is my first long haul flight since I flew back from the USA leaving the world turning conference a day early on Sept 10th 2001, fellow conference goers took weeks to get home. Hopefully we will be back to relieve Anna who is looking after house, ducklings, dog and cat on the 22nd. The children are off to France with my parents so whilst missing out on Japan they will have a good time too.