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All things Made in Japan

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Japan is legendary for craftsmanship — a tradition that goes from ceramics, textiles, and wordworking all the way to modern day cameras, whiskey, and even blue jeans. The long history of crafts in Japan shows a deep understanding of aesthetics and an unmatched attention to detail. Today it is easier to view Japan’s unique and beautiful crafts through a new exhibition on Google Cultural Institute called “Made in Japan.”

“Made in Japan” brings over 80 different crafts from all across the country together in a single destination online. From the delicate yamaga paper lanterns, to Kyoto boxwood combs, you can zoom in to discover these crafts in minute detail, and learn about the untold stories behind them. When you’re done, you might even be able to tell the difference between Edo Makie and Wajima lacquer ware, or Kutani and Kyo Satsuma ware.

Edo Makie and Wajima lacquer ware

The art of lacquer making began nearly 10,000 years in Japan. Over time, different regions and “schools” developed their own styles. Here are examples from Edo, or present-day Tokyo, on the left, and Wajima, in the north of the country, on the right. Edo Makie is recognized as a luxury lacquer that’s used for special occasions, whereas Wajima, known for its durability, is used regularly in the home.


Nishijin Woven Textiles

The story of each kimono begins with the weaving of its cloth. Nishijin textiles, produced in Kyoto, feature brilliantly dyed silk interwoven with gold and silver threads into complex and skillful patterns. Learn about every step in the process of making these prized textiles, from creating design sketches of the weave, to dyeing the silk thread, and finally the weaving process itself.


Kyo Satsuma ware

As its name suggests, this delicate and ornately designed ceramic ware was crafted in Kyoto but was inspired by a style developed in Satsuma, on the southern most island of Japan. Zoom in to admire the meticulous detail painted by artists in these mid-19th century wares.



Bonsai may well be one of the better known Japanese traditions, but did you know that every aspect of these miniature gardens has its own special significance? In this exhibit, discover the different elements of a bonsai, including what an ideal branch distribution (“edukubari”), and tapering of the truck (“kokejun”) look like.


With this special new collection, we hope many more people around the world can discover and fall in love with all things “Made in Japan”. And perhaps in some small way, by preserving these crafts online, we also hope to contribute to reviving these traditions for many more generations to enjoy.

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