Japan has eight regions, each with its own craft traditions that have developed throughout the country’s long history. The unique handiworks, which vary from pottery to simple household items, represent both past and a bright future.

Wood, bamboo, and metal handicrafts from Japan are well-known for their high quality. People admire Japanese blades because of their poetic steel and cast-iron vessels. Ceramics from the country are recognized for their simplicity on the one hand and their complexity on the other. Japan’s stunning papercrafts like the washi paper lanterns, origami (paper folding), kirigami (paper cutting), and wagasa (oil-paper umbrellas) are also loved by many. Japanese crafts continue to develop despite their long history. To encourage appreciation of—and continuing work in—such fields, the country has created a system of official master artisans and designated some of the top people working in each sector as “living national treasures”.

The natural gentleness of Japanese crafts is the source of their power, architect Kengo Kuma says. For him, Japanese handicrafts are a philosophical gift to humanity.