Craftsmanship for Babies
With a belief that coming into contact with craftsmanship from an early age expands a child's sense of values, Aeru, collaborates with Japanese craftspeople to create unique products catered to children.
Published May 31st on the former blog
When Rika Yajima was only 19 years old, she began to get curious about Japanese craftsmanship. She wanted to get to know the traditions of the preindustrial past, when the handmade goods were central to Japanese culture. The adults in her life – the generation above her own – were less than supportive. But Rika pressed on, and traveled all over Japan in order to study up on the techniques of old.
Today, Rika owns and operates Aeru, a brand that collaborates with Japanese artisans to create unique products for children. Perhaps inspired by her own struggle to learn about the craftsmanship of the past, Rika’s company aims to connect the next generation with Japanese tradition.
Aeru’s philosophy is that of bridging the gap between old and new – mixing “the wisdom of our predecessors” with the “sense and sensibility” of the present age. Their products aim to actively apply this time-tested wisdom to everyday life.
Starting with children: Aeru believes coming into contact with craftsmanship at an early age expands children’s sense of values. Each one of their products has a fascinating story behind it.
The tiny kid-friendly scissors are made of cherry tree wood from Miyazaki prefecture.
The tobeyaki set is part of a series of gorgeous handmade tableware. These dishes and bowls are made to withstand the messy process of learning to eat on your own: a tiny rim on the inside, and the heftiness of the hand fired ceramic material, resists baby-induced spills.
A beautiful “Japan blue” baby garment from artisans in Tokushima is made with organic cotton. Tokushima artisans use traditional methods to color the material, a process that involves dyeing the fabric again and again, over 30 times.
What’s unique about Aeru is that they highlight Japanese crafts not just from one single prefecture, but from all over the country. In an unexpected move, the company is embarking on ventures into hospitality: their side project Aeru Room is a series of gently curated hotel rooms in different hotels in Nagasaki, Hyogo, and Nara.
STORIES BEHIND THE PIECES
Kiyoko Matsuoka, 4th-generation shibori master
Shibori, meaning “to wring, squeeze or press” is the process of shaping cloth before dyeing to create various designs on the textile. Rather than using the cloth as a two dimensional surface, the Shibori textile has a three dimensional element, given that each technique requires years of experience to master.
Hiromichi Nakade, Maker of Oryoki Bowls
Meet Hiromichi Nakade and Kazuya Fujimoto, the makers of the Oryoki and Kodaiwan bowls. A master craftsman sits with his former apprentice to speak about their hope for the declining crafts industry in Japan, as well as the appeal of craftsmanship.