I feel acutely aware of the cultural differences between Europe and Japan and in preparation for out visit I have been doing some background reading. (I will confess to being a prolific reader and, with Robin being a prolific book-buyer, I have plenty to go at!)
First was Japanese woodworking tools: their tradition, spirit and use by Toshio Odate. This book not only describes the tools in great detail but also gives a wonderful insight into the life of Japanese craftsmen. The author now lives in America but was born in Japan and served an apprenticeship as a traditional sliding-door maker. [ISBN 0-85442-075-4]
Then there is an interlocking trio of books which are actually about pottery rather than wood working but again provide insight into Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship.
- The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of Japan's folkcraft movement, is a classic book looking at the values of art, beauty and handwork. [ISBN 0-87011-352-6]
- Susan Peterson's book Shoji Hamada: a potter's way and work provides a lovely description of the workings of the pottery over the four-month period spent there by the author. [ISBN 0-7136-6772-9]
- Folk art potters of Japan: beyond an anthropology of aesthetics by Brian Moeran is a more scholarly tome, but puts the other two in perspective. It discusses the British origins of the aesthetic ideals of Yanagi and Hamada and how they influenced and indeed changes the lives of Japanese folk art potters. [ISBN 0-7007-1039-6]
I could go on and read the various texts by and about Bernard Leach but I think I might have learned enough about pottery for now!