Photo Project Highlights Japanese Craftsmanship In Era of Mass Production


Images try and revive the the beautiful art of meticulously handcrafted goods

Ross Brooks
  • 17 july 2014

Japanese craftsmanship is considered some of the best in the world, but as mass production continues to grow, their way of life is under threat. In an attempt to preserve their culture, Miho Aikawa set out with her camera to capture the little-known stories of Japanese Craftsmen. The series captures the intimate world of glass blowing and jewelry making to show just how much devotion goes into each and every piece – the one thing that sets these masters apart from everyone else.

The first set goes inside Sugahara Studio in Chiba, Japan where each worker is treated as an artist. Changes in the climate, and other subtle variations can seriously affect the final outcome where glass is concerned. Regardless, each of the masters is able to produce a perfect piece of glass no matter how drastically the conditions change.

Everyone inside the workspace has also learnt how to co-ordinate perfectly, with the only sounds being their footsteps moving from one area to another, or the mixing of materials inside a furnace. As Aikawa describes on her website:

What I saw was the fusion of sensitivity and precision at the highest level, a level which only humans could achieve through culture, discipline and talent.

The second location is n+a studio in New York City’s Tribeca, where sisters Noriko and Akiko handcraft delicate pieces of jewelry. Even though they are based in the US, nearly all of the tools they use were made in Japan, which is a testament to the unique quality of workmanship from the Far East.

Unlike the workshop in Japan, this studio is a bit more lively:

Energetic vibe and cheerful laughter filled the room as the two artists told me about the so many ideas they plan to try out and put into production.

Aikawa’s photos not only provide a glimpse inside this mysterious world, but also raise some important questions. Efficiency in productions has its uses, but where does it end, and do we really want to eradicate an entire way of life for so many skilled craftsmen, not just in Japan, but around the world?

We will continue to see cheap, so-so quality products as long as ‘the race for the bottom’ continues around the globe. This is certainly bad news for the craftsmen who spend their entire life producing quality products, hoping that whoever buys their crafts will take good care of their art as it attains its uniqueness through use and age.

Miho Aikawa

Images by Miho Aikawa


Volvo's Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

Automotive Yesterday

Toyota Is Using Sewage To Power Its New Electric Car

A new hydrogen-fueled vehicle is driven by what we flush away

Culture Yesterday

Catch A Concert On This Small Floating Island

A man-made archipelago in Italy is hosting music and art performances


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Design & Architecture Yesterday

DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Woodenwidget says its detailed guides are suitable for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike

Related Expert

Brian W. Jones

Collabrative Art & Design

Design Yesterday

Crash-Friendly Drone Made From LEGOs Is Completely Rebuildable

The clever device offers games, education and the uniquely rewarding experience of destroying your high-flying airship

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

Free Sneakers Given Out To Motivated Marathon Runners

Strava will give the shoes to athletes who run the second half of their race faster than the first

Culture Yesterday

Someone Invented A Robot Just To Serve Trays Of Beef Jerky

Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, in partnership with Chef's Cut Real Jerky, creates an automated snack delivery system


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 27, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Millennials Yesterday

Why A Social Networking Site Decided To Rebrand

Meetup, a platform that connects like-minded individuals, has taken steps to stay relevant amongst millennials

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The People-First Workplace Should Borrow From Tradition

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX underline the old-fashioned ideas that deserve a place in the Future of Work

Op-Ed Yesterday

Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer of OLIVER Group UK, explains how some brands are still playing catch-up to new technology

Fashion Yesterday

Handbags Crafted From An Old NFL Stadium

People for Urban Progress is an up-cycling program that tackles the waste problem of big demolitions

Work Yesterday

Tech Job Site Created Just For Those Who Are Older Than 30

A new occupational job board presents a creative solution to age discrimination in the tech world


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Europe Yesterday

Architect Turns A Giant Smile Into A Public Exhibition

The structure offers visitors a new perspective of London and creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light

Children Yesterday

Norwegian Kids Are Using Their Phones To Log Unsafe Street Conditions

Travel Agent is an app that gamifies the reporting of hazardous conditions to improve the safety of children's commute to school

Travel Yesterday

Google Wants To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

A new app curates vacation itineraries and organizes reservation emails to take the work out of planning a getaway

No search results found.