Well, it's official! I'll soon be moving to Fukuoka, Japan. After a couple of years of working towards this goal, I was finally successful and had the amazing fortune to receive a research scholarship from the Japanese government. When people ask me why I became interested in Japan and learning the language, my answer is always, "Japanese design." It's kind of a fun story actually...
When I was just a little girl, I always had this favorite bowl in our kitchen. This bowl had been in my family since before I was born. One-of-a-kind, which of course made it all the more special. Be it macaroni and cheese or some other carbohydrate of choice, we all knew where my portion was going.
Just about a year or so ago, it occurred to me (with my newfound knowledge of Japanese design) to ask my parents, this wouldn't happen to be Japanese? Well, it just so happens that it is indeed so. That explains a lot as far as my taste in design goes. It made sense that my affinity for Japanese design wasn't something I just decided one day; it was something that's been silently there all my life, waiting to be named and explored.
Anyway, the point of the story is, even though in truth I'm not quite sure what first prompted my conscious interest in Japan, it's certain that my biggest motivation for sticking to learning the language and finding opportunities to travel there was my desire to understand and be close to the beauty of Japanese design. Although I might not have known how exactly how I would eventually immerse myself in the design culture of Japan, the prospect of finding my "tribe" kept me determined to keep learning the language.
And now it's happening!
I can't believe it, but in one month I'll be in Fukuoka, ready to dive into the amazing art of Japanese woodworking. After some time learning from professional artisans, I'll continue researching this country's contemporary design and start to make connections between the two to find the common thread of Japanese design culture and aesthetics. And then, most exciting of all, I'll create an original furniture design proposal inspired by the genius of Japanese woodworking.
Last September I made a visit to an amazing woodworking tools museum in Kobe. It was wonderful! They had just recently redesigned the whole museum, perfect timing. Despite being mostly in Japanese (with some English translations), the exhibits were exceptionally easy to understand, not to mention beautiful. They even had a workshop where you could make your own chopsticks out of cypress wood! What a great introduction to Japanese woodworking techniques.
As you can see in the picture on the right, I visited Nagoya Castle last fall as well. The Honmaru Palace portion of the castle was rebuilt just last year according to the original plans. I'll bet you have a hard time believing that this building (a minimalist architect's dream house) was designed in the 1600's. Sorry all you minimalist architects out there, I already claimed the place if they ever decide to rent it out.
As preparation for my "real" research to start, I've been collecting some imagery on Pinterest. Feel free to check it out if you're interested!
Wish me luck and stay updated with my blog as I continue on this journey of discovery!