MUJUN Craftsmen Collective
Mujun is a design and craft collective living and working in the rural Japan where traditional craft industry still exists. We are a team of designers and young craftsmen who specialise in knife making.
In 2008, we started our design practices, and have worked with craftsmen in different fields. Our clients are experienced veteran craftsmen who have been perfecting their skills for a long time. Our role as a design company is to modernise the beauty of their crafts for the wider audience.
Redesigning the crafts was not enough to reach the new market. Craftsmen needed more help. They needed to create a stronger brand to stay competitive in the market. More importantly, many of the craftsmen are getting too old to continue working while most of them did not have young apprentices to inherit the work of craftsmanship.
In 2013, we worked on a project to create a local brand, and ventured into a global distribution business. We have exported various local products made by the craftsmen that we have been working with since the beginning. Eventually, we began to attract some young people who aspire to become craftsmen.
In 2018, we embarked on a new project, Mujun Workshop. We built a small ironsmith workshop next to our design office. As of January 2021, we have three young apprentices in residence who aspire to become skilled craftsmen.
In 2020, we acquired 200,000 sqm of land in Shimane. We have a huge vision to build a village of craftsmanship.
Mujun means contradiction in Japanese. In the past 100 years, Japan has developed economically, but it has also declined culturally. We have lost makers.
Jiba-sangyo, or local industry, means locally producing something that suits the environment and the lifestyle, using locally available natural materials. Forests cover 80% of the land in Japan. The nature has always been an essential part of Japanese people’s livelihood. Japanese people believed that the nature was like the god that is making us alive.
Traditionally, production meant something that could emerge from the lifestyle. It was an essence of culture. Everyone was making things. We have lost this lifestyle.
In 2020, Japan realised this: The country has been too reliant on imports. It is not self-sufficient enough. It is not producing enough. The society has changed over the past 100 years as the country focused on the economic development, prioritising efficiency, productivity, and urbanisation. As a result, ironically, we have lost makers. Craftsmen and their skills are endangered. There are not enough young people who are inheriting their work of craftsmanship.
It is time to change. It is time to learn from the past and create a better future. Anyone can be a maker. Anyone can be a craftsman.