Posts Tagged ‘Hiroi Michiaki’

For those interested in Japanese folk craft (民芸) and history, check out this Kickstarter for the oral history project to preserve a Tohoku craft and four decades of exchange:

Carving Community: Oral History of US & Japanese Folk Art

An oral history project aiming to create a digital archive to help place a collection of traditional Japanese folk art in a museum home

Photo by Malina Suity and Paula Curtis via Kickstarter

Photo by Malina Suity and Paula Curtis via Kickstarter


In March of 1953, only one year after the end of the US Occupation of Japan, Janell Landis, a 27 year old Pennsylvania native, traveled to Japan as a part of a three-year teaching program. Those three years turned into four decades of engagement with the local Japanese community as an English teacher at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University and resident of Sendai, Japan. Landis spent her time there teaching English, traveling the country putting on puppet shows (a hobby close to her heart), and even recording English language television programs for her local station. Through this television connection, she serendipitously met Hiroi Michiaki, an artisan specializing in Edo-koma 江戸独楽 (Edo-style wooden spinning tops), with whom she recorded a New Year’s Day special in the winter of 1981. Over the course of the next decade, Landis was apprenticed to Hiroi (to her, Hiroi-sensei), and collected over a hundred of his handmade tops, each a remarkable testament to Japan’s traditional craft culture.


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