The Scent of Sakai – A Series on Japanese Craftsmen by Filmmaker Edwin Lee

We’ve been thinking about the progression of our own website here and how we can expand on it and keep the blog viable. So we’re happy to announce that we have started a Patreon page where you can support the expansion of our blog in to both a publication and a video series documenting the different craftsmen that we stock. When I came across this series by Hong Kong based filmmaker Edwin Lee it was really inspiring to see as I thought the message was very powerful and we could also take some inspiration from it.

This particular video that I’m sharing today features the work of craftsman Kinzaburo Kitamura who lives in Osaka, Japan. He is 73 years old and has been producing high quality incense sticks and fragrances by hand for over 35 years. Not only does he cut all of these by hand, Kinzaburo also blends the fragrances and creates the recipes from natural ingredients, something that’s very rare in this day and age. Thanks to his years of hard work he has been awarded Japan’s ‘Living National Treasure’ certificate – given to those who have attained high mastery of an art or craft.

I like this series by Edwin as I think it documents skilled artisans but has a particular focus on the succession of these crafts and how they’re dying out. Japan is particularly susceptible to this as the ageing population and low birth rate, matched with young workers who are looking for security in the big companies and the big cities. This has caused a condition that results in these traditional skills slowly starting to fade away. Hopefully projects like this will show young people that it’s still possible to go this route and crafts can be modernised and still have a value in today’s world. Watch on below, more can be seen on his Artisan Series page.


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