WAO – new movement of Japanese tradition –

The debut of “WAO” in NY was phenomenal. It’s a new movement by a group of Japanese craftsmen and artists to introduce Japanese beauty to the world. The founder is Ms. Yoshiko Ikoma, a fashion journalist, who has been at the top of the fashion industry, including four years as the editor-in-chief of the Japanese edition of Marie Claire.

“WAO” is the combination of two Japanese words; “WA(和)” (Japanese) and “O(生)”(birth), which stands for the rebirth of Japan. “WAO” also represents “WOW” in English. The first exhibition in NY by “WAO” took place at Capsule Studio from February 10th to 12th, 2012.

A lover of fashion, art and Japanese tradition, Ms. Ikoma worries about the current situation that

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Japanese craftsmen who are struggling to preserve their traditional businesses passed down through centuries. She said that, “although Japanese

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products have exceptional quality, Japanese craftsmen are struggling to run their business as they used to due to a shrinking market and less demand, lack of money, and changing lifestyles. Using my career as an editor of fashion magazines and my networks with people in

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the fashion industry, I want to collaborate with craftsmen to create modern products that keep the senses of Japanese tradition, technique and beauty, and fit into our modern lifestyle.”

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Mast by Kiso Hinoki Cypress

The humidifier is the perfect example of Japanese spirits that love nature and preserve the minutiae in their lives. The amazing part of this product is that it is made of wood shavings which were left from producing other crafts, and does not require electricity.

 

At their first exhibition in NY, 153 pieces were on display. They were created in the collaboration between leading luxurious brand such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Baccarat, and the craftsmen themselves. Mr. Yuya Sasaki, owner of Ootiya, is one of the few lacquer producers in Hiraizumi that flourished under the Fujiwara family in the Heian period. Mr. Sasaki says he just wants to do something new to let more people know about his products.

Tamatebako by Ootiya

These little accessory cases represent the great combination of traditional Japanese folk crafts and modern culture. It was created by Yuya Sasaki, who is the owner of Ootiya, which has passed down its traditional Japanese lacquer techniques for centuries.

 

For Ms. Hiromi Oonuma, the president of Hiro, a sewing company, this exhibition was a good chance to introduce Japanese culture through her pieces. She is eager to continue producing items that can be used in our daily lives.

Small Sewing Box Triple by Hiro

Hiromi Onuma, the president of Hiro, a sewing company with a 75-year history based in Kanazawa, created three boxes covered by Kimono fabric. Using her originality, she changed boxes that are used to store umbilical cord into sewing kits.

 

The challenge of “WAO” by Ms. Ikoma and Japanese craftsmen just started, and positive feedback from American and Japanese visitors to this exhibition will make it possible for “WAO” to make something happen.