From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.