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In Search of the Spirit: The Living National Treasures of Japan

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After World War II the Japanese government designated as Living National Treasures men and women who had devoted their lives to traditional Japanese crafts and performing arts. For this superlative book the authors visited six of these extraordinary artists, then blended a brief, illuminating text with color photographs, calligraphy, and illustrated sections to convey the essence of each art form. Readers will visit backstage at a Bunraku puppet theater, learn how the famous ...
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Overview

After World War II the Japanese government designated as Living National Treasures men and women who had devoted their lives to traditional Japanese crafts and performing arts. For this superlative book the authors visited six of these extraordinary artists, then blended a brief, illuminating text with color photographs, calligraphy, and illustrated sections to convey the essence of each art form. Readers will visit backstage at a Bunraku puppet theater, learn how the famous Japanese swords are made, and much more! <%END%>

Describes the creations of some of Japan's Living National Treasures, artists who are involved in various Japanese arts, including Yuzen dyeing, bamboo basket weaving, Bunraku puppetmaking, swordmaking, Noh theater, and neriage ceramics.

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Editorial Reviews

Betsy Thomas
In Search of the Spirit offers an intriguing peek into Japanese culture.
— Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the aftermath of WWII and the loss of many of its ancient monuments and works of art, Japan gave grants to the elders committed to the traditional arts to continue their crafts and to mentor others. Hamanaka and Ohmi offer a rare glimpse of these master craftsmen of Japan, or "Living National Treasures." The authors interviewed half a dozen diverse artisans: a yuzen dyer (who designs and dyes kimono fabrics), a bamboo weaver, a Bunraku puppet master, a sword maker, a Noh actor and a potter. Each brief biography tells how the artist chose the discipline (or how the discipline chose the artist), and the clear, compelling accounts brim with bits of wisdom from the masters as well as information about the culture and history of Japan. Photographs of the artists and their studios, materials, handiwork and performances precede a step-by-step "more about" section demonstrating each practice. Whether explaining how the steel for a Japanese sword is folded and pounded into a million layers or what different fan gestures mean in traditional Noh drama, this is top-notch nonfiction. Ages 7-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
This is an introduction to six of Japan's greatest treasures, six living artists or artisans who are dedicated to upholding and perpetuating tradition in the arts and crafts. While it will be a welcome addition to the literature available in libraries and schools on the study of Japan or art history, this is not at all a dry textbook. It captures the spirit of the artist, the concentration of the craftsman and the devotion needed to become a master. In the 1950's Japan began to give grants to elders excelling in the traditional crafts and performing arts. They were given the title of Bearers of Important Intangible Cultural Assets and the grants allowed them to train apprentices. The six profiled include a dyer who decorates kimonos, a bamboo weaver, a puppet master, a sword maker, an actor, and a potter. Each section is followed by an illustrated explanation of how the art is practiced. In addition to the illustrations and calligraphy by the authors, there are photographs from various sources.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-In the 1950s, the Japanese government, concerned that ancient traditions were dying out in the mechanized postwar era, created a program to honor elders practicing age-old crafts and performing arts. To date, some 100 men and women have been designated Living National Treasures, receiving grants to continue their life's work and to train apprentices. This elegant, beautifully designed book introduces six of these people, all men: a yuzen dyer who decorates silk kimonos, a bamboo weaver, a Bunraku puppet master, a sword maker, a Noh actor, and a potter. They did not learn from textbooks, but have succeeded through hard work, lifelong training, and, most importantly, "the seeds of feeling" in their hearts. Bold, red calligraphy and a large, full-color photo of the craft or performer at work open several pages of lyrical, informative text about each artist. Abundant, well-chosen photos are presented in layouts that stunningly utilize white space. A spread that describes clearly in words and illustrations the basic steps of the art form follows each sketch. This is a book to savor.-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With sustained reverence, Hamanaka (Bebop-A-Do-Walk!, 1995, etc.) and Ohmi present portraits of six artists who are among Japan's "Living National Treasures," for perpetuating traditions that seemed to erode after WWII. The introduction states that "over one hundred men and women" hold the honored title; these profiles of six men—a yuzen dyer (or kimono artist), bamboo weaver, puppet master, sword maker, Noh actor, and potter—are fascinating. Readers will be amazed to learn that most of the artists had to break with the traditions of their families to preserve the traditions of their culture. Firsthand interviews, the history of these arts, and the details about the workmanship pepper the text while the elegant design complements the well-organized information, full-color photographs, and drawings of some of the processes involved. More than simply the stories of six men and their painstaking dedication, this book is a unique meditation on Japanese history and culture. (Nonfiction. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688146078
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/24/1999
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.18 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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