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Five Kyoto artisans head to Portland for exhibition on Japan's artisanal heritage

Hirotsugu Ogawa, pottery
Photo: Yuya Hoshino

There’s an interesting dichotomy in Japan at the moment: this nation’s long and revered tradition in artisanal craftsmanship is at risk of being lost as the country’s manufacturing might advances, where items are mass-produced to fuel immediate consumption. To highlight this, Portland Japanese Garden in America is featuring five artisans from Kyoto to showcase their works and efforts in preserving the ancient arts of Japan.

These five artisans (or shokunin in Japanese) have a speciality each, and their knowledge (save for the youngest member of the group) is a legacy inherited from the previous generations.  Shuji Nakagawa is an expert in wooden vessels; Chiemi Ogura crafts bamboo basketry by hand; Keikou Nishimura is a master in lacquerware; while Hosai Hosai Matsubayashi and Hirotsugu Ogawa are known for their pottery.

Kyoto was once the imperial capital of Japan. Till now, the ancient city is often seen as the epicenter of Japanese arts and culture. Artisans flourished in that period in time, producing an amazing collection of artworks and objects catered to the aristocratic class. Hence, many collectors adore the unique sophistication and elegance seen in Kyoto’s artisanal crafts.

If you happen to be in Portland in America, drop by and show your support for these artisans of Kyoto. Exhibition is now on until July 8.

For more information on ‘Shokunin: Five Kyoto Artisans Look to the Future’, click here.