Design your own shoot in Japan
Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts
Hidden away from street level is the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts. Like many of Japan’s treasures, it is not so easy to find. But part of the fun of traveling in Japan is the quest to find things hidden in plain sight. The museum is just across from the more famous Heian Shrine…the spot where Werner Bischof took one of my favorite photographs of stepping stones in the garden.
The museum houses a collection of traditional craft objects, from woodblock paintings, and kimono pieces to granite lanterns. The range of objects is extensive and their reach is incredible. It feels as if a part of every Japanese story is represented in their collection. And unlike any specialty shop, the museum is a great opportunity to see objects you’ve read about in person and possibly discover a few more you had never seen. I was particularly excited to see the woodblock prints and the Noh masks.
Kyoto craftsmen currently number over 3,000 and they are the building blocks for many Japanese traditions. Tea ceremony, music, story telling, entertainment, and fashion all find their roots in the craftsmen. In a way, the museum is like the cultural DNA of Kyoto.
Under the direction of Rie Doi, they are expanding their outreach to connect visiting photographers with craftsmen. Rie and I met a few years back, just as I was starting to create Lost Ceremony. She helped with the coordination of some of the shoots and has since moved on from the Media Bureau to the position of Museum Director. She is well versed in many of the interests that I have in the craftsmen and in a funny way, Lost Ceremony has opened up the higher administrative levels to accepting photographers who exist outside of the strict definition of journalism. It is an admirable and forward thinking approach that Rie and the museum have adopted.
While we were there, Rie gave us a private tour and mentioned that she had a little surprise for me. About half way through the museum, I discovered that one of my prints from the Leica Kyoto Exhibition was on view, along side the tools of the bamboo craftsmen. It was a great honor to see the photograph as part of the museum.
If you are interested in visiting the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts and meeting some of the craftsmen, please visit their website here: http://www.miyakomesse.jp/fureaika/index_eng.php
And this way, whether you join me on the next A/M Kyoto Workshop in November or you visit on your own, you can design your own shoot and find a unique perspective that is bound to be a memorable experience.