The Spring 2007 Bead Artists Shows
When Art Bead Circle Magazine Art Designer Lana May asked Motoko Natsubori, one of the coordinators of the “Bead Artists Shows” that took place in three cities in Japan this spring, Ms. Natsubori provided a unique insight into the world of beading in Japan.
Ms. Natsubori shed light upon some similarities and differences between American and Japanese beading.
"In general," Ms. Natsubori said, "Japanese people think that American beading is different, splendid, creative, artful and artistic. In terms of design, Japanese beading artists are more likely to prefer simplicity." Until three years ago, Ms. Natsubori mentioned, a distinctive way of beading referred to as the "Japanese Style," had been the mainstream in Japan. Recently, however, after bead stitch (off-loom) and bead crochet were introduced from the States, these methods have become increasingly popular among bead lovers in Japan.
"In addition," said Ms. Natsubori, "Japanese bead artists have begun to use more gem stones in their beading recently." The artists who are most involved in beading in Japan include: Chikako Miki, Uta Ohno, Takako Samejima and Yoko Shimizu, as well as Beadologist Kumiko Mizuno.
Methods for the teaching of beading are also well developed in Japan, and "how-to" books are especially popular, Ms. Natsubori indicated.
According to former editor of Bead & Button Magazine Alice Korach, Japanese Beadologist Kumiko Mizuno's teaching methodology is outstanding and her textbooks are well-organized. Ms. Korach also complimented Mizuno’s methodology, saying that there's nothing like this type of systematic curriculum in beading in the States.
Ms. Natsubori also shared the successes of the Spring 2007 Bead Artists Shows in Japan. The “Bead Artists Shows” were hosted by the Arts J Crafts Executive Committee and co-hosted by the Japanese Association of Leisure and Culture Development (foundation authorized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, Sports and Technology in Japan), the Wonderful Aging Club (association authorized by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan) and Japanese newspaper company Sankei Shimbun, Co. Ltd., publisher of the popular Japanese newspaper Sanki Shimbun.
The beading shows took place in three separate venues including the Daimaru Department Store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka (March 14-20), the Matsuzakaya Department Store in Ginza, Tokyo (April 4-10) and the Hakone Open-Air Museum located in Fuji Hakone Izu National Park (March 24-April 1), which is about one hour outside of Tokyo. At the Hakone Open-Air Museum show, 256 pieces from the U.S., Canada, Israel and Japan were exhibited, among which 110 pieces were classified as jewelry pieces. The exhibits also included 17 pieces made by 14 of the winners and finalists from the Bead Dreams 2006 competition which took place during the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In response to an invitation by Bead & Button to submit their prize-winning pieces for the exhibits, 13 pieces were submitted by American artists, 3 pieces were submitted by 2 Canadian artists, and one piece was submitted by an Israeli artist. Also exhibited were pieces by two special guests: U.S. designers Yoshie Maruhashi and Masami Sato.
Designers whose pieces were exhibited include: Mary Lou, Kelly Angeley, Nancy Cain & Mel Innmon, Doris Coghill, Marcia Laging Cummings, Phyllis Dintenfass, Sandra D Halpenny, Louise Hill, Liat Liechtmann, Kym Longhi, Katherine Crowley Peckham, Angela Plager, Elfleda Russell, Lana May, U.S. designers Yoshie Marubashi and Masami Sato, as well as many Japanese designers. 13,500 people visited the Osaka Bead Artist Show, while 15,200 visitors came to the show in Tokyo. Over 16,000 visitors came to see the show in the Hakone Open-air Museum. Although it was hard to say which designers’ pieces were most popular, Ms. Natsubori said that Masami Sato's pieces seemed to be quite popular among the visitors. In addition, the knitted pieces with metal wires received a lot of attention. Chinako's work including “Juvenile Child” especially captivated the most visitors. Pieces exhibited at these shows will appear in the Hakone Open-Air Museum exhibition catalog, which will be published as an art book and sold at bookstores, art galleries and museums in Japan.
As the large number of people who attended the Bead Artists Shows demonstrates, beading is definitely very popular in Japan. Ms. Natsubori indicated that there are about 50 beads-specialty stores in Tokyo, while most other major Japanese cities usually have a few beads-specialty shops as well. Additionally, most craft shops have beading sections. Just like beading artists and their fans in the U.S., “Japanese people wear their own bead pieces, and they love it!” Ms. Natsubori stated. It sounds like beading will continue to be a well-loved art in Japan.