CultureThe Craftsman - A Reflection of the Japanese Spirit

Japan is a cornucopia of traditional craftsmanship. At the same time it is a treasure house of the most advanced technologies. And now traditional and modern technologies are being brought closer to emerge as one entity. Rigorous efforts to realize such attempts are very much being seen in modern Japan, making it one of the important characteristics of Japanese technology.
Glimpses of true Japan can be seen more closely when you learn something about the artistry of skill and expression and, the way of living and philosophy of, the Japanese craftspeople.

Japanese traditional craftsmanship: It is a technology of craft making born out of and, shaped from sympathetic feelings toward life in nature …

In Japan a blacksmith would say ‘iron is a living thing,’ a potter would say ‘earth is a living thing,’ while a lacquer worker would say ‘lacquer is a living thing.’
In modern technological thinking, the self cuts itself apart from nature and assumes omnipotence. It then looks at nature as an objective body from which resources are to be taken for its own good. It may be said that modern technology is rooted in such tendencies.
Contrary to this, the technology of traditional craftsmanship does not accept the concept of “man vs. nature,” but takes on a more mutual and friendly relationship in which man and nature sympathize with each other or sometimes even co-mingle.
Woodsmen who are experienced and fully equipped with traditional technology of wood cutting of forests are able to know the history of growth and health of each tree just by touching it. They can exactly judge which tree can or cannot be cut by merely looking at clusters of trees in a forest. Such judgment of those experienced woodsmen determines the future of the trees and whether or not the area would become spirited forests again.

Ability to hear voices of nature

Those experts of traditional technology in old days may surely have had “an ability to hear voices of natural living things.”
Though modern Japanese people do not have such extraordinary ability, you will find so many expressions in Japanese language treating nature as an equal to humans such as, “the trees are whispering” or “the wind is calling.”
The technical term for such expressions is called personification. However Japanese craftsmen are not personifying nature but rather treating it as their equal.
It can be said that the mentality of ancient men since time unknown may have been preserved in traditional craftsmanship.

How technology is to be treated in the future

Advancement in modern industrial technologies have brought a wide range of material richness, however it has also spread public hazards such as environmental destruction, seriously threatening the very existence of natural life that very well includes human life.
It may well be interpreted that such dangerous situations have occurred as a result of dismissing this ability to listen to nature as being “non-scientific.” We humans have given in to this one-sided view and treated nature as merely an object to be exploited by humans to be used for industrial purposes.
When we think of future technology and its relationship to man, we should once again think thoroughly as to how Japanese craftsmen have inherited this ability to hear voices from nature and that we should certainly give vital importance to human sustenance with technology in the future.

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