As part of the Global Innovation Design course, whilst studying abroad we are able to experience the local culture through a “cultural immersion” run by the Royal College of Art. This year, the Japanese cultural immersion was run in Tsubame-Sanjo; an area in the northern Japanese prefecture of Niigata. Known for the precision and skill of the craftspeople from its numerous small metalworking factories and workshops, it produces a huge variety of products including the majority of Japan’s cutlery.
Not only were we able to experience the traditional craftsmanship and heritage of the region but as so many factories are now open for public tours, we were able to see inside the manufacturing processes of the metal works. It was incredible to see not only the manufacturing itself, but as we visited over five factories, we were also able to compare the different approaches each factory takes to the industry, their craftsman and customers.