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Craft picture1This event is composed of two elements: a joint symposium hosted by Japan Research Center at SOAS and Doshisha University and an exhibition displaying traditional Kyoto handicrafts.

To truly understand the urban culture which flowered in Kyoto, we must do more than superficially debate cultural theories of the city and its country. We must dig, in effect, far deeper. It is not enough to merely discuss the culture of miyabi (“courtliness” or “refinement”), but instead, we must uncover its foundation.

What, then, do we find at the depths of these elaborate cultural manifestations? Craftsmen and their traditions.

At the core of all so-called miyabi traditions in the ancient imperial capital – Noh dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, courtesan cultures of the geisha –is always found the anonymous artisan. They have played an equally crucial role in the development of the religious arts found in shrines and temples. Their multi-layered network of traditions, skills, tools, artistry, and aesthetics has for centuries suckled and sustained Japanese urban culture. And it is only by focusing the spotlight on the artisans’ traditions that we can begin to glimpse the fundamentals of Japanese and Kyoto culture.

This symposium and exhibition rests on such a premise. We intend to promote the understanding of these handicraft traditions through the collaboration of two venerable Kyoto ateliers: “Karacho” (the karakami paper-maker Choemon, for nearly 400 years leading the unique world of Kyoto traditional kara paper-making and now using this heritage to launch into new “projects”) and “Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hampu” (the Kyoto bag maker renowned for supplying duck canvas bags and sacks to Kyoto professionals for over a century, now producing popular bags sought after as fashion accessories.)

Craft Picture2In this event, we hope that many Japanese craftsmen and handicraft companies – though facing a host of complex challenges in today’s economic climate – can reclaim confidence and pride in their work, particularly through transmitting their art to a wider British and European audience.

We hope that the skills of these Kyoto craftsmen may prove an inspiration to craft enterprises in Britain too.




Symposium Title

"Innovation of Tradition, a New Challenge by the Craftsperson Company in Kyoto Shinzaburo Hanpu and Karacho”

Venue: Lecture Theatre at SOAS,
University of London
Thornhaugh Street,
Russell Square,
London WC1H 0XG

Friday, 9 November, 2007
1:00pm – 5:00pm

Download MAP (PDF 24K)

FREE admission
Please click here to register

Exhibition Title

@ Gallery 47

47 Great Russell Street,
London, WC1B 3PB

Private viewing:
Tuesday, 6 November (TBC)

Wednesday, 7 November
10:00am – 4:00pm

Thursday, 8 November,
10:00am – 4:00pm

Friday, 9 November
10:00am – 8:00pm

Saturday, 10 November
10:00am – 1:00pm

Download MAP (PDF 24K)

FREE admission for
Wed 7th to Sat 10th

Organisers and Sponsors
Japan Foundation