In Search of the Spirit: The Living National Treasures of Japan

by Sheila Hamanaka and Ayano Ohmi

During World War II, Japan lost many of its national monuments and ancient works... read more

During World War II, Japan lost many of its national monuments and ancient works of art, the authors explain. In the industrialization that followed many of the age-old traditions of artisans were disappearing. In response, during the 1950s the country began to honor “elders who had devoted their lives to traditional crafts and performing arts….Today, over one hundred men and women have been given the title Bearers of Important Intangible Cultural Assets.” Six of those individuals, all of who are male, are profiled here: a yuzen dyer, a bamboo weaver, a bunraku puppet master, a sword maker, a noh actor, and a potter. Each of the profiles includes background on the artform as well as information on how the artisan took up his craft and his philosophy with regard to his art. Color photographs of the artists (all of who are male) at work also accompany the portraits of these individuals who embody “the spirit of Japan’s unique culture.” (Ages 10- 14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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