“ From an early age, my childhood home in London was adorned with all manner of woodcraft from Japan. From kokeshi dolls, bright lacquerware bowls to shoji screens and ingenious puzzle boxes, my parents – one English, one Japanese – brought their love for Japanese woodwork to the UK.
It’s only recently, after a spell working in London’s technology sector, I’ve come to realise how surrounding yourself with handmade, natural items can be the perfect antidote to the stresses of today’s digitally-obsessed world.
So, you can understand when I began my woodwork journey a few years ago, I was naturally drawn to study Japanese principles first. My impulse was to embark on a Japanese woodwork course – stay true to my roots and become a disciple of a master Shokunin (craftsman)! But at the first hurdle my research drew a blank. Other than a few Japanese design-influenced courses (think chopsticks and bath stools), there was simply no-one in the UK teaching authentic Japanese woodwork.
Further research added to my frustration. Was my best source of knowledge from a Canadian on YouTube called ‘The Samurai Carpenter’? There’s nothing wrong with Jesse, he’s talented and genuinely passionate (you should check him out). However, it raised the question, why aren’t there any Japanese-born crafts people sharing their primary knowledge first-hand? It turns out there are – but they’re difficult to find, and rarely in English.
It’s why I’ve launched the JWA – to give those crafts people a platform and save others the time of filtering masses of content online. Finally, a single destination acting as a central hub for all this information online.
My vision for the JWA is to be the definitive English-language, online resource for Japanese woodwork. From traditions and techniques, to course listings and maker profiles, everything you need to start your journey will be in one place. Whether you want to advance skills, connect directly with makers and teachers or simply explore this fascinating world for the first time, the JWA website is the first of it’s kind.
As we’re just launching, please bear with me whilst I write more content; build partnerships; add listings and uncover makers, past and present. I’m building a team of content contributors and fact-checkers across the UK and Japan, so if you’ve knowledge or contacts to share please reach out. I’d also love to hear any feedback on the first iteration of this website.
I hope I can achieve my vision. I’m currently self-financing the JWA. All content is currently free and accessible to all. I hope to keep it that way by securing sponsorship and funding in 2020.
Looking forward to hearing from all of you with a shared passion for Japanese woodcraft! “Daigo Smith | Founder | Japan Woodcraft Association