Since 2003 during my
regular visits to Japan, Akiko Nakamura and I have been researching
the status of surviving old shops and trades in three areas of Kyoto
city where the traditional chonin (the artists, craftsmen and traders)
used to work. All cities would have specific areas where certain
trades took place, whether a textile producing area, dry goods and
pharmaceuticals, fresh food and produce, artisans and craftsmen making
lacquer ware, Buddhist statuary, woodblock prints and so on.
We are compiling a survey
of some of these individual traders and craftspeople in Kyoto as an
example of the skills and products that will become ever more scarce
as modern techniques and processes overtake the traditional methods of
This is not an exhaustive
survey, but our project aims to preserve the fact of the existence of
these traditional traders while they are still present, and record
their stories and working life for future generations who would
otherwise not know of them.
The project is on-going
and to date we have surveyed around one hundred shops and trades, many
of which have already closed or are about to close. The information we
are collating will be published with additional visuals and video
links when these become available.
on the image to go to www.japanINTERLINK.com
PDF file here
|OLD KYOTO SHOPS: The
Disappearing Shops & Traders of Old Japan PREVIEW BOOK by
Suzanne Perrin & Akiko Nakamura
Suzanne Perrin and Akiko Nakamura have been conducting a survey on
the traditional shops and traders of Kyoto since 2003, interviewing
shop proprietors and workers, and assessing the status of their
trades in a rapidly changing world.
Many small businesses are being forced to close for a variety of
reasons, whether due to declining orders for traditional items,
competition from overseas, technological changes to production, or
an ageing population of craft workers with few apprentices willing
to learn a demanding process.
The book covers an introduction to the history of Kyoto, its
craftspeople and licenced artisans, a compilation of statistics on
the rate of declining small businesses in the Kyoto area, and
focuses on different groups including textile workers, wood workers,
metal workers, food suppliers, some ryokan and coffee houses, and
general goods stores.
The surveys highlight the problems of economic growth versus the
decline in crafts and traditional suppliers, analysing solutions and
successes where businesses have survived and prospered, or problems
and difficulties where businesses have closed. The surveys were
conducted between 2003 and 2016, and are on-going.
We will be concluding our researches in 2016 with a view to
publishing the completed book in 2017. We aim to provide updates on
the project via the Japan Interlink website and social media links.
For info see: www.japaninterlink.com/kyotoshopsproject or
Suzanne Perrin B.A.; M.A.
Independent researcher, lecturer in Japanese history, art and
culture for universities and museums; founded Japan Interlink in
1995, and published Bridges: Anglo-Japanese Cultural Pioneers
1945-2015 in 2016 available online at
Professional artisan, fourth generation weaving expert in Nishijin
textiles, founded Ever Koubo in 1999, a weaving workshop for
teaching younger artisans; works with her son producing fashion
design clothing and is a registered Kyoto guide and textile