Japanese ink artisan/Interview – IS JAPAN COOL? CRAFTSMANSHIP(墨職人)


In China and Japan, sumi (black inkstick) is regarded as one of the bunboh-shihoh (“four treasures of stationery”) together with fude (writing brush), hanshi (thin paper), and suzuri (inkstone), and is treated respectfully as a tool for composing letters. Since sumi is a solid stick, ink liquid is produced by rubbing the inkstick against inkstone with water. Sumi writing has been found on a wooden plate in ancient China, and on a late 2nd century ceramic in Mie Prefecture — the oldest sumi in Japan.

Japanese craftsmanship is a way of life for artisans who continue faithfully making their traditional crafts while devoting themselves to enhancing their skills.          

We at ANA focus this year’s “Is Japan Cool?” project on Japanese artisans with expert command of unusual techniques inherited from ancient times — now rare in today’s world. Feature articles spotlight the spirit of tradition that dwells in these often unknown artisans who support Japanese people’s lives and cultures with the works they make by hand. The project team wishes to reach as many people as possible and share the true stories of these artisans and their treasured craft legacies.

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