The Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition is an open competition dedicated to the protection and nurturing of Japan’s outstanding traditional crafts. The exhibition features works by numerous artisans from all over Japan, showcasing the best of their skills in friendly competition and bringing together the techniques and beauty of Japanese craftsmanship. The 69th edition of the exhibition was held at the central Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo from September 14 to 26, 2022, and featured 491 works selected from 1,158 entries by the general public in seven categories: ceramics, textiles, lacquerware, metalwork, wood and bamboo crafts, dolls, and other crafts, as well as 558 works by Important Intangible Cultural Property holders (Living National Treasures). The basis for selecting the award-winning and selected works is “technical skill, artistry, and creativity.” In addition to carrying on established traditions, continuing to create new beauty is the only way to build a tradition that will continue into the future.
The President of Japan Kogei Association Excellence Award was awarded to “Flower Basket in Sukashi-ajiro Weave, ‘Morning Dew’” by Shoko Kawano, a bamboo craft artist from Oita Prefecture. The design, which was inspired by the lotus seat of a Buddhist statue, has a graceful elegance, and the exquisite workmanship, which is based on the openwork sukashi-ajiro weave, is truly remarkable. The technical skill of the artist, who has been engaged in bamboo crafts for many years, is outstanding. The calm luster of the lacquer on bamboo strips of different thicknesses shines serenely and beautifully, just as the name “Morning Dew” implies.
The “Bizen Flower Vessel of Mixed Clay with White Slip,” which won the Minister of Education, Science and Culture Excellence Award, was created by Ryuichi Kakurezaki, a leading ceramic artist from Bizen, Okayama Prefecture. In view of the fact that the amount of high-quality hiyose clay traditionally used for Bizen ware has been decreasing year by year, Ryuichi has been experimenting with the use of “konkou-tsuchi” (mixed clay), a blend of hiyose and several other types of clay. This work, which was fired unglazed and painted white on a base of mixed clay, captivated visitors with its deep expression and presence. The artist’s creative expression was highly valued, as he took on the challenge of creating a new style of Bizen ware to connect the tradition to the future.
“Glass Flower Vessel with Long Narrow Neck, ‘Severe Cold’”, which won the Japan Kogei Association Newcomer Award, is a work by Masaki Kawanabe, a glass artist based in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. The artist used the “overlay” technique, in which layers of glass are layered on top of each other and finally shaved to boldly reveal the layers. The sense of depth the gradation gives is magnificent. Masaki, who is usually active in the world of contemporary art, has earned high praise for his solid technical skills and artistic sensibility in the world of traditional crafts as well.
A crowdfunding project for next year’s exhibition was held from September 1 to October 23, 2022, and raised more than 16 million yen, far exceeding the target amount. It is gratifying that so much support has been raised from people who wish to see the exhibition of traditional Japanese crafts continue to be held. We look forward to next year’s exhibition, which will be the commemorative 70th.
The 69th Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition
Regional exhibitions schedule
November 17 – December 4
Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art
December 7 – December 25
Shimane Art Museum
January 2 – January 16
Kagawa Prefectural Museum
January 20 – January 25
February 1 – February 6
February 15 – March 5
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum
March 9 – March 14