Amid the clamor of technological and economic success, a reverence for age, custom, and tradition endures in Japanese culture. The honorable title, "Living National Treasure", is the highest award that can be achieved in the Japanese arts. Some seventy master craftsmen and performers are bestowed with this title and are charged with passing on the country's artistic heritage to future generations. LIVING TREASURES OF JAPAN takes you into the homes and workshops of the remarkable people who quietly keep Japan's most precious creative traditions alive.
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Timeless profiles of nine of Japan's most revered artists are included in this thoughtful presentation, Living Treasures of Japan. The government of Japan selected 70 craftspeople and performing artists for their preservations of ancient arts. In return for the honor and a small annual stipend, they continue their work and teach apprentices. Among the artists profiled are a sword maker who designs according to a secret ritual; a potter who revels in deliberate irregularities; a doll maker who insists on giving each doll a unique personality; the only puppeteer to receive the title of living treasure; a man who makes handmade paper that was once used for imperial correspondence; a woman who has been teaching Koto playing to young women since 1917; a kabuki actor; a bronze bell maker; and, perhaps most lovable, a woman who has been weaving indigo since she was 14. At 90, she is the oldest in this video and, in fact, she died soon after it was made. Not only does the video succeed in creating excellent portraits of each artist, but it takes viewers to unique and remote regions where the artists live, where we can witness a creative process that is as beautiful as the finished product. --Cristina Del Sesto
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