matohu matohu



This is the 12th installment of Journey from Palms of Hands.
On this trip, we delve into the question, “What is crafts?” Crafts encompass more than just traditional crafts. Crafts refer to all things people create from the blessings of nature. From that, the simple answer to this question takes us to the following.

Crafts are a form of gratitude and prayer for what keeps us alive.

We had planned to travel to Noto for this installment. The Noto Peninsula is home to traditional Japanese homes and festivals, with a rich food culture that draws from both the sea and the mountains. Its handiwork mainly consists of Wajima-nuri, a type of lacquerware from Wajima on the Noto Peninsula. We had traveled to Wajima several times with the plan to highlight the attractions of this region while having lacquer painter Akito Akagi show us around.

However, an earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula on January 1, 2024. The violent shaking from the magnitude 7.6 earthquake moved the land along the shoreline upward, destroyed Wajima’s traditional townscape and took many lives. The earthquake dealt another blow to the crafts practiced in this land, which were already under strain from aging and depopulation.

Very soon after the earthquake, Mr. Akagi posted the following on social media.

The world gets destroyed with fearsome speed even in normal times that appear peaceful. Disasters are nothing more than the random emergence of this destructive aspect in a form that we can see. Yet people still stand strong in the face of this, knowing that everything will eventually get swallowed up by this incredible power regardless of their own wishes. That is at the core of what making things is about. And this makes life wonderful. Crafts are wonderful.

Throughout our long history, we have lived while giving thanks for the rich blessings of nature. Even if at times our way of life has been shaken, we have persevered and rebuilt the blocks of our lives. They have collapsed and we have built them back; we have lost things and remade them again. And we have stood strong in the face of the overwhelming forces of nature that can snatch away the life given to us and prayed for our safety in the future.

How have we lived until now and how will we live going forward?
  Crafts are a form of prayer that show us the way.