Just one possession
in this lightly-lived life
a gourd of rice


Shokunin is the Japanese word for craftsman or craftswoman. These are the men and women who preserve Japan’s traditional legacy of hand-crafting products including swords, drums, fans, pottery and more. Many shokunin use crafting methods that have been passed down for hundreds of years, sometimes within a single family. But because most things can be mass-produced these days, shokunin, and their skills, are disappearing. 

Shinise is a Japanese word that literally means, “old shop,” but implies a tradition that has been carried on in the same family for at least one hundred years and sometimes, twenty generations. Many of them were purveyors to the imperial court of Japan until the emperor left Kyoto for what is now Tokyo in 1868.

With a new awareness of the beauty of machiya, some have begun to restore the old storefronts, turning them into restaurants and boutiques.

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