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Video stories of 6 Japan artisans

An initiative to tell stories of Makers in historic craft towns in Japan.

About the project

Japan is a very unique country that has been preserving and practicing a wide variety of traditional crafts with hundreds of years in history.  Even as of today, craftsmanship remains to be the competitive advantage of the country.  However, with the extreme declination in population, and jobs/investments being centralized in metropolitan cities, many rural historic crafts towns are at risk in becoming ghost towns or facing lack in successors. 

TAKETOMBO'S 1st Project

In the world of craft, often times Makers do not sign their name on the product they produce.  Behind this humble act, there is a community of artisans whom dedicated their life in mastering and perfecting their skills of object making.  We would like to tell the stories behind hand-made products, and prompt more conversations on how we see craftswork in the 21st century when the industry relies on cheaper means of production and advance techonology like A.I., laser-cutting, 3D printing etc...

One of the initiative of Taketombo is to build a library of short video interviews,  featuring stories of traditional artisans on our webpage for English-speaking audience, by providing quality information on history and culture, we hope travelers will have even more appreciation and enjoyment during travel planning and research phase, as well as when they travel.

_ Tell authentic stories of Japan craft towns and artisans to Western audience.
_ Peek into the lifestyle, dedication and discipline of Japanese artisan.
_ Behind every hand-made item, there is a human story.

To kick off this initiative, we have identified 2 historic towns in Japan, each with over 300 years of craft histories.  These locations are remote and little-known even to local Japanese, and let alone providing English information for Western audiences.  We have lined up 6 local artisans (wood carvers, lacquer artist and ceramists)  for story-telling interviews.  Our final deliverables will be a 5-7 mins story for each artisan captioned in English, discussing about family history, tradition, passion and life-time dedication in craft.   The final collection of work will be posted on Taketombo's homepage.  We would also like to share the work to local non-profit organization and regional government to help them promote their towns.

Through these 6 short stories of little-known Japan craft towns and artisans, we hope to prompt re-evaluation on what craftsmanship means in 21st century when modern day commodity relies on quick, low-cost mass-production means and method.  Crafts is about the hands and the heart, the touch of artisans' hands that gives objects it's value and unique identity.



- a historic ceramic town hidden up in the mountian - Koishiwara, where family-run potters are practicing traditional hand-made potteries.  There are 2 styles of potteries:  Koishiwara ware and Takatori ware, each have its distinctive style with hundreds of years in history.  This town have about 50 active kilns run by families, and are still actively producing.



- a historic town name Inami is reputable for traditonal wood carving.  Artisans take pride in developing and utilizing over 200 types of chisels in creating their works.  This quiet little town's wood carving craft has just been awarded the status as Japan's National Cultural Heritage in May 2018!!  (Everyone is super happy here!)


To date, we have just completed shooting at our 1st location in Kyushu (we traveled to Kyushu from Tokyo on April 19.  We came back with very great interview material from 3 family-run historic kilns and will spend the month of May in post-production.  In the meantime, we are also in pre-production and planning for the second location filming, expecting to happen in June.


nobori gama (climbing kiln)


What are the funds for?

We are a small social innovative startup.  The production team consists of a student videographer, an Interviewer, a translator, an editor and myself as the Art Director/Producer/Bus/everything else.  The Cameraman and Interviewer are volunteering their personal time to work on this project.   Our initial stories involves 2 locations (Toyama and Fukuoka), which requires 2 separate trips traveling from Tokyo. 

Since these locations are quite remote, there is a need to spend 2 days 1 night at each location to complete 6 interviews. (3 interviews per location within 1 day, super aggressive shooting plan).

As the crew volunteer their time and labor (traveling, planning, shooting etc...), we are seeking support to cover maybe traveling expenses (domestic flights, train fare and accommodation) so we can spend our budget in much-needed post-production work including transcrption, translation and editing.  Translator in Japan charges by words and we are looking to transcribe eight to ten 20-minutes footage into English. 

Travel Expense estimation for 2 shootings (crew of 3):

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS, BULLET TRAIN + RENTAL CAR/toll/gas (Toyko - Kyushu & Tokyo - Toyama): USD 2800


TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE: estimate USD 450 per 20-minute footage (Estimate spending USD 3600-3800)

FREELANCE EDITOR (we are engaging a freelance editor now as the workload gets too much)

TOTAL EXPENSES for 6 stories USD 6980+


WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? is a new startup with a goal to re-evaluate the meaning of handcraft and commodity of the 21st century.  We will setup experience workshops and residency programs in lesser-known historic craft towns in Japan to prompt cultural dialogs and collaborations between international creative talents and traditional artisan in Japan.   With the aging population in Japan, this is also an effort to energize rural towns with rich history in culture and crafts that do not receive the same attention and investments as in Tokyo and Osaka. 

No doubt the international community shows strong interest in traveling to Japan, with desire to gain deeper experience in culture and craft, however, the first challenge we want to tackle would be to provide English information for international travelers to understand the history and value of these rural small towns. Thus, gives the International community access to many lesser-known locations in Japan. 


We have done shooting in Fukuoka in mid-April 2018, and have kicked off post-production work (translation, transcription, editing etc...).

We would love to share some rough cuts when ready, in the duration of this pledge.

We are also kicking off pre-shoot planning for the second location (Toyama) to keep the momentum going.


Thanks to our Editor Mr. Takuya for working super hard to put the story together.  We will be ready to release the 1st part of a 400 year old family-run kiln in the coming week.   Here's a sneak peek.  Also check our webpage as we posted some of the on-location photos from the shoot in April. 



TODAY, we have released the 1st completed interview from Fukuoka at Taketombo's homepage!!  Hassen Takatori Kiln - Part 1.  This would not have happened without a lot of volunteering support!  Please visit our site to view.  We have also kicked off editing Takatori Part 2 where the idea of Wabi-Cha (a style of tea ceremony) will be discussed.  Mr. Takatori will explain a 2-tatami-mat-size-traditional tearoom as well! 






About the project owner

Taketombo is a new startup with a goal to re-evaluate the meaning of handcraft and commodity of 21st century.  We are launching residency programs in lesser-known towns to prompt cultural dialogs and collaborations between creative talents in the West and traditional craftspeople in Japan.   We want to invite international travelers, artisans, designers that shares similar passion to visit our locations to experience handcrafting. The vision is to bring the best of both worlds together.  Our goal is to re-energize and revive craft culture in aging towns, one town at a time.

The experience project is set to launch in Fall 2018.  Visit our homepage (work-in-progress) for information.