The Sustainability of Crafts: Shifting the Paradigm of “Traditional Crafts” | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Japan is proud of its ‘traditional crafts’. However, the future of its crafts is by no means secure. The makers lack successors, supply chains are aging, materials are no longer available, while the new generation of customers have new tastes and the high prices fail to convince them. The rigidity of tradition and the reluctance to engage globally are hindrances to both marketing and sympathetically motivated research. A radical shake-up and paradigm shift is required. This paper combines the collaborating perspectives of a scientist-artist and an art historian, to explore the sustainability of crafts from cultural, economic and scientific perspectives. The research will focus on the case study of Kanazawa, the UNESCO designated city of crafts and folk art, and the surrounding Ishikawa prefecture which boasts the second highest number of ‘Living National Treasure’ residents in Japan after Kyoto. Moreover, Ishikawa’s Noto peninsula is regarded as the model of satoyama and satoumi sustainable living and has been designated Japan’s first ‘Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System’ (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). By engaging with the current global debate on what it means to make ‘crafts’, the fieldwork and interviews gathered locally will be analyzed from multiple perspectives, with a view to determining where a sustainable future might be found and what actions could be taken to help generate a shift in paradigm that could provide crafts with a more certain future.


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