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Taketombo Curious Case

Ayako Takase 高瀬文子

Industrial Designer, Co-Founder of Observatory (Design Studio)
RISD Professor - Providence, USA
アメリカ -  インダストリアル・デザイナ、
オブザーバトリー デザイン会社 経営者
RISD 美術大学准教授
Destination:   Takaoka, Inami, Hida Furukawa, Kanazawa
目的地:  高岡、井波、飛騨古川、白川郷、金沢
Workshop / Studio visited: 
  • metal foundry
  • wood carvers' studio
  • lumber mill
  • furniture factory
  • carpenter's studio
  • wood Joinery workshop
  • 金属鋳造
  • 木彫
  • 製材所
  • 家具工場
  • 大工の工房
  • 組み木ワークショップ
Master Wood Carver Taniguchi opened his door to welcome us.

I had a pleasure of working with Mikki for planning an investigative research trip for curriculum development for Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) this summer in 2019.


Starting from my vague idea of wanting to do something mutual with Japanese traditional crafts and American design/art students, and after brainstorming together, Mikki crafted an informative and meaningful trip through Toyama and Gifu visiting craftsman, local traditions and culture.


What is different and unique about this trip Mikki planed and toured with me, from any other cultural tour trips that I have taken elsewhere, is her company’s mission and commitment to sustaining the local traditional arts and crafts. I not only experienced the culture hands on, but I was able to witness the dire needs for actions to be taken to sustain its heritage and shokunin skills & culture in rural Japan. She keeps asking what everyone can do as a unique stakeholder to maintain and revive the traditional arts and move it forward. She is well connected locally, professional and flexible with my needs and opportunities I sought out.


I plan to continue working with her to build a foundation to do meaningful and lasting work with traditional craftsman and RISD students in near future. We (Japanese) are very lucky to have a passionate and capable visionary such as Mikki making these connections and bridges to support local crafts and arts industries and traditions. 



Words from Taketombo:

It was great pleasure to support Ayako in her journey of Craft.  Her objective was clear and simple: to see, learn and be inspired by as many traditional Japanese crafts within her limited time of stay. And explore how the American creative academics can deep-dive and learn from the intelligence of hand-crafts while leaving these historic towns with something sustainable and of value as well.  We have planned her trip based on her interests and experience in Industrial Design.  

Last but not least, we always love to see what our curious travelers bring home as they all have the quirkiest idea for souvenir and keepsakes (from charcoal rubbing of manhole cover to broken porcelain shards).  Ayako was particularly drawn to a pile of wood shavings at the carpenter's woodshop.  We were both amazed by the sharpness of the tools where lumbers are planed to perfection.   Not sure if the long strip of tissue-paper-thin wood shaving arrived back to the US in 1 piece though.  :-D

And I am sure Ayako had a great time from driving on the "wrong" side of the street to cutting through tunnels and mountains to discover the beauty of countryside Japan.   Check back to see what new initiative brews from her research!


I not only experienced the culture hands on, but I was able to witness the dire needs for actions to be taken to sustain its heritage and shokunin skills & culture in rural Japan.


 - Ayako Takase, Industrial Designer from Providence, US 

We look forward to continue our partnership in reinventing

the Crafts of Japan. 

Ayako, see you again soon!


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