raison d'être

raison d'être

1st Collection

raison d'être

Reason for existence

Our mission is to be a reminder for those slowly fading away.
To preserve our important ties.
To advocate for the hands that forge.
To not forget that creating is what nurtures a creator.

Consider the priceless moment of reflecting upon and connecting to those close to us.
Consider the superior craftsmanship and products that the hands of artisans create.

Let us reflect and ponder; what is it that we are striving towards?
Let us continue questioning the existence and phenomenon that we are a part of.
Let the judgements come - they are necessary for our future endeavors of creating new values
that meet the needs of a new era.

raison d'être
craftsmen short ver
raison d'être
craftsmen long ver
Thoughts for raison d'être

Thoughts for raison d'être

“raison d'être” means ‘reason for existence’ in French.

There are two things that are disappearing as our lifestyles change. They are the Buddist altar, Butsudan, and craftsmanship. In days gone by, the Butsudan was placed in every house. It was like the handmade tableware and architecture that we touched daily. What was familiar to us when we were children will no longer be commonplace for the children of the future. There are many things that are lost as time goes by, but there are also things that should be passed down. We would like to reconsider its value before it disappears unnoticed.

This is not a religious point of view, but a reconsideration of how "Butsudan" and "craftsmanship" play a key role in daily life.

The “Butsudan” gives us meaningful time and a precious connection with our family. “Craftsmanship” gives us the touch and texture of crafts made by human hands. We started ”raison d'être” with the idea of rethinking, together with you, the Japanese culture and customs that should be passed down to future generations.

Satoshi ItasakaJin KuramotoYuko NagayamaKohei NawaYukio HashimotoShigeo Mashiro

The six answers
that the six artists have reached

We are incorporating multiple traditional craft techniques into the artworks in this project in order to adopt the value of Butsudan and the art of craftsmanship in daily life. Like a Butsudan at shrines and temples or at a parents house, it is a collective entity made up of various techniques such as Japanese lacquer, gold leaf pressing, metal ornaments, Makie lacquer, coloring, and so on.

What we value the most, when we think about a new Butsudan and a form of prayer, is to understand the background of history, culture and techniques that has been handed down from generations to generations, and to transform it into a new style. This project is based on the idea of preserving values that can be inherited and passed on, while at the same time changing with the times.

As a result, the Butsudan has three aspects: the architectural aspect, as a miniature temple enshrined in the home; the interior aspect, as a place of gathering in the home; and the object aspect, as a place to lay hands on and pray. We challenged ourselves to reconstruct those three sides. The six artists who are active both domestically and internationally, including an architect, an interior designer, a product designer, a contemporary artist, individually expressed the form of prayer they envisaged based on the value of the Butsudan, the value of time spent in prayer, and the value of craftsmanship that should be passed down.

Satoshi Itasaka・Jin Kramoto・Yuko Nagayama・Kohei Nawa・Yukio Hashimoto・Shigeo Mashiro

The value of Butsudan and the possibilities of traditional craft

The value of Butsudan and
the possibilities of traditional craft

Though Butsudan is unique to Japanese culture, keeping your loved ones’ belongings at hand and recalling memories of the dearly departed is a fundamental act across the world. When we remember a loved one, we feel not only nostalgia and melancholy but also peace and warmth. At the same time we are able to turn inward toward ourselves. We think that the role of Butsudan, beyond the concept of religion, can be a catalyst to face and free ourselves in order to give new values to daily life.

We sometimes have a certain image of a tradition which seems to get left behind because it has been passed down for many years; Edo, Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei and Reiwa periods… Japan has overcome a lot of difficulties politically, economically, and culturally, which have led us to where we are now. The reason why traditional craft still remains is not because it has not changed but because it has been changing. At the center of the demands of the times and technological innovation, the unchanged part of traditional craft is the craftsman’s attitude toward continuing to produce supreme works created by human hands’ with all its challenges and ingenuity.

  • animus〈Satoshi Itasaka〉
  • animus〈Satoshi Itasaka〉
  • animus〈Satoshi Itasaka〉
  • animus〈Satoshi Itasaka〉

animus 〈 Satoshi Itasaka 〉

“While contemplating the ideal form of a timeless butsudan, I considered the connection between our modern values and the butsudan as a traditional artefact. I particularly focused on the aspect of mourning - a sentiment shared across all beliefs, countries and time, whether be it for a fellow human or a companion animal. It’s something so fundamental and universal that isn’t limited to any traditional rite or religious structure. My vase pieces are an expression of sensuality with a touch of madness; embodying life and death. They can contain thoughts and prayers, along with objects/data belonging to the deceased. With a floral arrangement as a symbol of prayer for the spirit to rest in peace until their next life, the butsudan is complete.”

Created
Satoshi Itasaka
Title
animus
Size
W270 × D169 × H66
Material
Bishu cypress・Copper plate・Japanese lacquer・Gold leaf
Technique
# Wood joiner, # Lacquer painter, # Lacquer polisher, # Gold leaf presser, # Gold carver, # Metalsmith, # Metal colorist
  • Kizou〈Jin Kuramoto〉
  • Kizou〈Jin Kuramoto〉
  • Kizou〈Jin Kuramoto〉
  • Kizou〈Jin Kuramoto〉

Kizou 〈 Jin Kuramoto 〉

The current butsudan market already shows a plethora of modern designs intended to adapt to today’s lifestyle. As I began to analyse what it actually meant “to pray”, I also wanted to explore the possibilities of who, or what, these prayers are being dedicated to. The butsudan sits at a very close proximity to sentiments for the deceased. Originally, the butsudan was not intended as a place to simply place the mortuary tablet, but rather a space for prayer. Today, it is seen more as a space to pay respects to ancestors and loved ones who have passed. That is why I would like to see the butsudan culture continued as something more personal and private - a kind of special space.

Created
Jin Kuramoto
Title
Kizou
Size
W136 × D136 × H215
Material
Bishu cypress・Colored pigment・Gold dust・Gold leaf・Copper plate・Porcelain clay
Technique
# Wood engraver, # Buddha carver, # Colorist, # Gold carver, # Gold cutter, # Wood turner, # Ceramic artist
  • Tamayurano Zushi〈Yuko Nagayama〉
  • Tamayurano Zushi〈Yuko Nagayama〉
  • Tamayurano Zushi〈Yuko Nagayama〉
  • Tamayurano Zushi〈Yuko Nagayama〉

Tamayurano Zushi 〈 Yuko Nagayama 〉

“Although the butsudan had not been a present feature in my current lifestyle, there was always one in my family's home. My grandmother would tell me to take my school prizes and graduation certificates onto the altar, and report to the ancestors whenever there was news to share with them. Time seemed to flow differently when I connected with ancestors of the past. A closed butsudan can blend into the home completely, but its doors open up to a whole new world. Wishing to recreate that doorway into the other side, I wanted to produce an altar that would connect us to another timeflow, and offer an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves. A butsudan can become a device that creates such an ephemeral moment in our daily lives.

Created
Yuko Nagayama
Title
Tamayurano Zushi
Size
W400 × D400 × H320
Material
Bishu cypress・Japanese lacquer・Platinum dust・Gold dust・Gold leaf・Copper plate
Technique
# Wood joiner, # Lacquer painter, # Lacquer polisher, # 蒔絵師, # Gold carver, # Gold cutter
  • Ho / Oh (unfinished) 〈Kohei Nawa〉
  • Ho / Oh (unfinished) 〈Kohei Nawa〉

Ho / Oh (unfinished) 〈 Kohei Nawa 〉

The butsudan was a familiar feature in my childhood home. The world shown in its outline always fascinated me - from its intricate decor to its poignant structure. Ringing the bell and hearing its light, metallic sound as we knelt to pray was a mesmerising moment; that strange sensation as if a kind of space had opened up inside my heart - I would describe that experience now as momentary meditation. I think that special space within our hearts is where we receive our inspirations. More compact and simple variations are becoming the mainstream today, but I felt as an architect it was not my role to design such a butsudan and chose a completely different approach. That was what led me to create the phoenix statue.

Created
Kohei Nawa
Title
Ho / Oh (unfinished)
Size
W690 × D753 × H1000
Material
Japanese red pine・Japanese lacquer(expectation)・Gold leaf(expectation)
Technique
# Buddha carver, # Lacquer painter, # Gold leaf presser
  • magokoro〈Yukio Hashimoto〉
  • magokoro〈Yukio Hashimoto〉
  • magokoro〈Yukio Hashimoto〉
  • magokoro〈Yukio Hashimoto〉

magokoro 〈 Yukio Hashimoto 〉

The butsudan is designed to be a space to bring together those who are no longer with us and those who gather around it. From watching makers of butsudan at work, I learned how it is essentially a collection of various industrial skills that has strongly inherited traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The quality of the workmanship is clearly noticeable in the finished product; a delicate wooden structure coated in lacquer and gold plating. The resulting design idea was a traditionally shaped pillar and roof combined with modern and minimalist gold plating. The design inherits tradition but can still be comfortably present in a modern home environment.

Created
Yukio Hashimoto
Title
magokoro
Size
W450 × D500 × H2000
Material
Bishu cypress・Gold leaf・Japanese lacquer
Technique
# Hall specialist, # Lacquer painter, # Gold leaf presser
  • Perch〈Shigeo Mashiro〉
  • Perch〈Shigeo Mashiro〉
  • Perch〈Shigeo Mashiro〉
  • Perch〈Shigeo Mashiro〉

Perch 〈 Shigeo Mashiro 〉

In designing an altar for companion animals, I decided to take a step back from the usual traditional, religious formats seen in altars designed for humans and went for a simpler approach; focusing on the essence of mourning and praying for those we love. Creating time for prayers and inner reflection doesn’t have to be retrained to particular religions or cultures. That is why I wanted to design a butsudan that could exist like an ornamental piece within a modern living space. Perhaps it could be our modern way of thinking to see the butsudan as a device to turn to in our daily lives to allow us to take time to observe our inner selves and tune into our minds.

Created
Shigeo Mashiro
Title
Perch
Size
W598 × D276 × H250
W386 × D235 × H330
Material
Bishu cypress・Brass plate・Japanese lacquer・Gold leaf・Colored pigment・Walnut・Japanese cherry
Technique
# Wood joiner, # Lacquer painter, # Lacquer polisher, # Gold leaf presser, # Colorist, # Metal colorist

Exhibition Report

The first “raison d'être” exhibition took part in the design and art festival ‘DESIGNART TOKYO 2019’ for ten days from October 18th to 27th 2019, and was held at Omotesando in Tokyo. We are very grateful to the nearly 1,000 visitors who came to see our unique collection of handcrafted Butsudan and traditional crafts over the duration of the exhibition.

Wakabayashi Butsugu Mfg is planning a second collection in the future, which will generate broader venues for traditional craft artists and create opportunities for people to ponder what Butsudan is. We ask that you help us preserve Japanese craftsmanship and the essence of Butsudan life which we take so much pride in. Your interest will ensure that these techniques will be passed onto future generations.

  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party
  • raison d'être 1st Collection - Reception party

Exhibition

2019.10.18(Fri)- 10.27(Sun) 11:00-19:00
GUM OMOTESANDO 3-10-25 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo

Reception Party

2019.10.21(Mon) 18:00-21:00
IWAI OMOTESANDO 5-6-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Craftsman

Osamu Okada
Masaaki Kitagawa
Tomoya Yokooji
Toshiyuki Makino
Tadahiro Kuramoto
Yutaro Shimode
Atsushi Sudo
Takashi Nakazawa
Masaki Shimada
Gorousaburou Kanaya
Takashi Sudo
Shinobu Sudo
Satoshi Hasegawa
Yuki Ayabe, Shoji Kubode
Hirokazu Ichikawa

Venue

Space Design: Satoshi Itasaka
Graphic / Sign design: Yoshiki Uchida + cosmos
Photo / Movie: Mitsukyuki Nakajima, Takashi Kuroyanagi