Keeping the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship alive
The Japanese Traditional Crafts Association seeks a presence in the Middle East to give buyers a taste of the country's heritage
Japan's craftsmanship has long been appreciated for its high-level techniques paired with distinct style to create unique tokens.
Breathing life into inanimate objects, the craft now aims to make its way to the UAE and establish a presence in the Middle East market. To enhance this, the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries, led by its Senior Managing Director Masaaki Sakai, is on the lookout for key individuals that can help showcase the country's crafts to the region.
"At first, we wondered whether people from the Middle East would be familiar with Japanese traditional crafts, given the major differences between our regions. But when we welcomed a trade delegation in March, we found that the delegates understood the quality of Japanese materials, and know that our craftsmen use high-level techniques in the production of original crafts including gold," he says, adding that he now believes the Middle East audience has a strong interest in purchasing traditional Japanese crafts, and is looking for overseas sales channels.
He hopes to find influential experts who can attract potential buyers, and help the team come up with an appropriate marketing strategy. "Meeting up with such professionals would boost our reach in the Middle East," he says.
To date, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan has designated 222 traditional crafts in locations ranging from the northern island of Hokkaido to the Okinawa archipelago in the south. With this in mind, the Association is armed to nurture each region's distinctive skills involved in the production of unique crafts.
It further works to ensure that the underlying expertise is handed down to future generations.
The establishment has participated in four overseas trade fairs, including the Maison & Objet in Paris, and Ambiente, a trade fair in Frankfurt. Sakai and his team are now targeting the Middle East.
With exciting travel packages available in the UAE, it has never been easier to visit Japan and Sakai hopes more people from the region will visit the country.
"I would like to see more people from the Middle East visit Japan and see our showroom," he adds.
The Association is locally known as Densankyokai. Its name is derived from a selection of Chinese characters; it's full form being Dentoteki Kogeihin Sangyo Shinko Kyokai.
The Association accepts a number of interns from the world, including people from the Middle East. Sakai looks forward to welcoming visitors from the UAE, who can provide input and feedback on the type of traditional crafts that would appeal to people in the region.