Traditional local crafts are becoming a lost art in Japan, but some students at the Shizuoka Design College have turned to an unlikely source in order to revive interest in them. They are using characters created by manga legend Osamu Tezuka to introduce a new generation to the wonders of the local Japanese craftmanship.
The work of these young artists are displayed in an exhibition in the Shichikencho district of Shizuoka’s Aoi Ward in the hopes that it can also inspire other artists to take up these local crafts. For example, 21-year-old Kenta Serizawa used Tezuka’s iconic Astro Boy to make a papier-mâché or what the locals call a hariko doll. He thinks that Atom, the robot title character in the manga series, is the perfect match for the texture and warmth of the hariko. This papier-mâché technique was traditionally used to make “daruma” dolls, lucky charms and even children’s toys.
21-year-old Hitomi Sawada then used “The Phoenix” character to introduce the Kakegawa style hand-woven “kuzufu” by making intricately-designed folding fans. The cloth is taken from the inner fibers of the plant and can be made painstakingly by hand. Sawada said that whenever you hold the fan, you can actually feel the fibers’ texture and even the material’s warmth. The kuzufu cloth is also believed to have been used when creating the famous “hakama” trousers popularized in the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). Those who played the traditional game of “kemari”, a sort of footbag, wore the hakama and were almost always part of the nobility.
The head of the college’s academic affairs, Yasuhiro Hoshina, says that they put on this exhibit in order for the younger generation to see these traditional crafts and at the same time, to inspire the artisans and dealers to continue on with their chosen field because they can still gain the support of the art community.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]