Welcome to our new series, Mogami's Japanese Wellness Tour
As you may already know, Japan is a country with a rich and distinct culture that has evolved over thousands of years. Its unique geography, history, and social customs have led to the development of distinct local cultures in each of its 47 prefectures.
Each prefecture has its own flag, dialect, traditional crafts, local cuisines/specialities, festivals, wellness practices, and other cultural traditions specific to its region. With Japan being a longevity nation, it is essential to see the macro-level lifestyle principles that help drive its health metrics. However, it is also worth discovering each prefecture as it has distinct flavours.
Through this virtual wellness tour around Japan, we hope to introduce to you a few wellness-related facts about each prefecture alongside traditional Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品 dentou-kougei-hin) that have been practised, mastered and treasured over decades, especially as incorporating creativity and hands-on arts is one of the wellness principles that we focus on at Mogami.
At Mogami, we appreciate that practising your creative self is essential to long-term wellbeing.
Our goal is to highlight each prefecture's wellness practices to empower you to take control of your holistic wellbeing in a way that works for you.
Come along to discover, learn, and experience each prefecture's beauty and speciality.
A brief introduction to traditional crafts in Japan
Traditional crafts in Japan are diverse and include pottery, textiles, lacquerware, doll-making, metalwork, woodwork, and more. These crafts showcase exceptional craftsmanship, aesthetics, and design, are fundamental to Japan's cultural heritage and play a crucial role in the country's economy and tourism industry.
These crafts are identified as "traditional crafts," as they typically are produced using time-honoured techniques, materials, and traditional tools. They also have a rich and long history and cultural significance and are crafted by skilled artisans who undergo rigorous training.
Each prefecture has several crafts passed down through generations, and they are recognised and celebrated as part of the local cultural heritage. They have deep roots in local culture and history, so they often reflect essential aspects of Japanese life, such as religious beliefs, cultural practices, and artistic expressions.
The Japanese government also has an official list of traditional Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品指定 dentou-kougei-hin-shitei) established in 1975 to preserve and promote important cultural assets unique to specific regions of Japan. As of 2022, there are a total of 240 crafts on the list, all known to have historical and cultural significance.
We hope you can learn more about Japan's traditional crafts and appreciate the intricate dedication and exceptional skill needed for their masterful craftsmanship!
Onto our first destination to kick off our tour: Hokkaido
Did you know?
Hokkaido is a world-class wellness destination. It is home to unspoiled nature, pristine national parks, volcanoes, onsens (natural hot springs), top-tier ski resorts, and abundant fresh seafood.
It is also renowned for its pure, mineral-rich spring water sourced directly from the mountains.
Hokkaido Traditional Crafts: Wooden bear carving (木彫り熊)
Carved wooden bears are iconic Hokkaido souvenirs. It's a traditional wood carving craft involving intricate designs into wood blocks using specialised carving tools. The designs are often inspired by nature, featuring images of plants, animals, and landscapes that reflect the natural beauty of Hokkaido.
About artisan Kenji Sato 佐藤憲治
Born in rural Furano in 1950, Sato-san is a native of Hokkaido. Upon receiving training from his older brother in 1972, he worked independently for 51 years as a professional wood carver. Sato-san's motto is "木を大切に", which means to "cherish and value the trees". His artistic inspiration is also rooted in the concept of "mottainai," or avoiding waste and being mindful of our resources and environment.
Cherish the trees. (木を大切に)
Wooden bear carving by Sato-san
Two wooden bears were carved in a modern style using wood buried under a river for about 100 years after being knocked down by a typhoon.
"The standing bear" carved out of the Enjyu tree.
Cherishing our natural resources and adopting a sustainable lifestyle not only benefits the environment but also leads to our own sustainable wellness. By being mindful of our consumption habits and reducing waste, we preserve our planet's beauty and enhance the quality of our lives.
Let Sato-san's motto remind us to make conscious choices and prioritise the long-term wellbeing of our planet and ourselves.
Thank you Sato-san, for sharing your story and valuable input with us.
Find & support him and more of his work here: https://www.instagram.com/ken_bori/
What sparked your interest? Comment below.
We are thrilled to have you join us on a journey of discovery and immerse yourself in Japan's vibrant yet harmonious culture.
Stay tuned for our next destination next month! 👋🏻