Slow-Craft, Slow-Living,Name Sealing and Snail-Mail
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
It's Cyber-Monday, how cyber are we here in Japan?
With COVID lingering, digital platform and e-commerce is becoming crucial to the success of many businesses. So what is it like in many of the rural craft towns in Japan?
Japan lives in its own time era, in fact, many of our artisans (and much businesses in Tokyo) still relies on fax as their main business communication channel. This year, almost all the festivals and events in Japan has been canceled, including Spring and Fall craft and ceramics festivals which are crucial time to artisans in selling goods. Some municipal and craft co-ops sponsored web-festivals, but the sales is nothing compare to physical events. Some co-ops also take a huge cut in the already struggling sales as "management fee".
The world was at a halt for awhile and are slowly picking it back up. We see this as the best opportunity for Japan to do some "cyber catchup". At least Prime Minster Suga is administering "digitalization" these days, and prompt organizations to eliminate old-fashioned "hanko" name stamping protocols to streamline processes. (In case you have not heard, many workers are unable to WFH due to the many name-stamping approval process required at work (literally with a seal and red ink). Digital signature was unheard of in Japan until few months ago...
Goenne.com , launched in August, aims to open new business channels, to protect revenue for artisans and maintain fair-trade. Our challenges and observation these past months: Small-batch craft producers hesitate to produce much this year to avoid stale inventory. Slow-craft artisans have a hard time catching up with the "holiday rushes" such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are very foreign to them. In addition, postal service has been taken back to snail-mail era during the pandemic (Think steam-boat style). So the answer is: We are Not joining the rush. In general, Japan is not there yet, and R-U-S-H just does not exist in the world of artisanship.
On some days, I wonder, how do our supporters put up with Surface Mail, when many of us have been spoiled by AMZ's next-day-shipping for years? But they do! The level of understanding and respect is simply incredible.
There are many things in life that is worth slowing down for and are worth the wait.
Speaking of slow-craft and fast-moving market:
KINTSUGI is an old craft involving super tedious processes to repair broken ceramics. Funny how I recently read some online vendors saying they have to keep buying and breaking and repairing ceramics in the fastest way to meet the demand. So i guess this traditional craft has become a fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) in the West now.
Announcing KIN - TSU - GI Pop-Up Gallery
I met Mr. Koga while wrestling with a lump of clay at the ceramics studio, figuring out how to spiral wedge in clockwise direction to be exact! LOL
Kintsugi has exploded into some philosophical-driven, commercialized commodity in many Western countries. We want to bring back some accuracy and authenticity to this historic hand-craft. So after discussing with Mr. Koga, we decided to curate a small selection of basic kintsugi works for an online gallery. We hope to eventually evolve it into a kintsugi information hub for overseas advocates, through the lens of practicing artisans (sans wabi sabi life-coaches). So more to come!