Haneda Airport to Showcase Japan’s Master Craftsmanship to World with Luxury Store

The Japan News
A Suzusan stole made using Nagoya’s Arimatsu shibori dyeing technique

Japan’s artisanal skills, often overlooked even at home, will soon get a new showroom at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, where it is hoped sales to the world’s affluent will aid regional economies.

The Japan Mastery Collection store, which will open on Dec. 22 in the duty-free area of Terminal 3, will feature clothing, tableware and artworks that make use of traditional crafts and techniques from across Japan. There will be tops made from kimono fabric with mother-of-pearl thread, as well as Iwate Prefecture’s Nambu ironware, which are popular among foreign tourists.

Scanning the QR codes on product tags will bring up pages telling how and where the items were made, with text in three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese.

“We want the store to be more than just a high-end souvenir shop,” said the store’s spokesperson. “We want it to be a place where we can show the world Japanese craftsmanship.”

The items don’t come cheap. For example, a cashmere stole from Suzusan, a brand specializing in Arimatsu shibori, a traditional Nagoya dyeing technique, costs about ¥80,000. But this still beats the prices of major luxury brands.

The store aims to put wealthy foreign visitors in the room more often with products made by Japanese artisans, thereby raising the profile of these craftspeople and opening new sales channels.

Japanese craftsmanship, such as fabrics made from ultra-fine fibers and durable, well-engineered eyeglasses, has already received high praise overseas. For example, luxury brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci are reportedly using denim produced in Okayama Prefecture. However, many aren’t aware that Japanese workmanship has bewitched the brands.

The Japan News
Mizen-brand tops made of kimono fabric with mother-of-pearl detailing

Also, many of the producers of these goods are small companies with little knack for building new sales channels or negotiating for higher prices. Even if the product is unique and luxurious, it often sells at a low price and brings in little profit. And when artisans are not paid well, few wish to succeed them. Their painstakingly honed skills then begin to disappear.

Mizen, an apparel brand that supplies the Japan Mastery Collection, makes clothes using traditional Japanese thread-making and weaving skills. “If our products gain recognition and appreciation overseas, it should help improve the status of Japanese craftspeople,” said Mizen President Shunsuke Teranishi. “We would like to share the story behind our exceptional techniques with visitors to the store.”

Hiroshi Onishi, president of Haneda Future Research Institute Inc., which runs the store, has previously worked in the department store industry and has long been concerned that Japanese craftsmanship has not been given its due.

“I hope that the skills and products that people discover at this store will create a virtuous cycle where visitors to Japan will see production areas on their next trip,” he said.

The Japan News
Items made with traditional Japanese skills to be sold at the Japan Mastery Collection store in Haneda Airport