Kyoto and Ukranian designers collaborate to aid reconstruction efforts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Products jointly developed by Ukrainian designers and Kyoto traditional craft makers are seen in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City.

KYOTO — Six Kyoto firms that work with lacquerware, pottery and other traditional crafts are offering products in support of crowdfunding efforts to aid designers in Ukraine. The country’s traditional patterns have been incorporated into the products created by Kyoto craftspeople to be given to donors as gifts based on their contribution.

A portion of the proceeds are sent to the Ukraine-based designers to help them fund reconstruction efforts.

The six products include a gamaguchi coin pouch in blue and yellow — the colors of the Ukrainian flag — bearing the image of a dog painted by artist Nakamura Hochu of the Edo-period (1603-1867), and a kokeshi doll featuring the characteristics of motanka, a traditional Ukrainian amulet. Furoshiki wrapping cloths featuring a traditional Ukrainian pattern also are available.

Yomiuri Shimbun Photos
Left: A kokeshi doll featuring the characteristics of a motanka amulet Right: A gamaguchi coin pouch in the colors of the Ukrainian flag that bears the image of a dog painted by artist Nakamura Hochu

All the products are designed to convey hope despite the country still suffering from Russian aggression.

The crowdfunding project started with an email sent to Kyoto product designer Ryosuke Fukusada, 42, in March. The email was sent by Denis Sokolov, with whom Fukusada had worked in the past. Sokolov, co-owner of Svoya, a product design studio in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, wrote that he was willing to do some design work if it could be used to support his country’s economy.

Fukusada, whose designs have won many awards at home and abroad, consulted on the matter with Kyoohoo, a group supporting cross-industry exchanges among companies that deal with traditional Kyoto crafts. After six companies agreed to participate, Fukusada further exchanged emails with Svoya designers and came up with products that mix Ukrainian features with traditional Japanese crafts.

Isuke Shoten Co., a lacquer shop founded in the Edo period, created lacquer mamezara small dishes depicting the sunflower — Ukraine’s national flower — and Ukrainian traditional designs of plants and birds. “We joined the efforts as we thought through our works we would be able to support Ukraine. We worked hard to make the images on the dishes appealing to Japanese people so that they can be sold for a long time,” Isuke Shoten President Toshiyuki Okino said.

Donors will receive gifts in return for contributions starting at ¥1,320. A system usage fee is also required to join the project. The products will be available through crowdfunding site Readyfor until the end of October, after which they will be sold commercially.

“We were able to create products symbolizing Ukrainians’ hope to have people know more about their country. I want a lot of people to enjoy the products,” Fukusada said.

Visit for more details.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A sake tableware set inspired by Ukrainian ceramics