Team Shokunin recently had the joy of going to ResoBox, a Japanese Cultural arts center in New York City. Walking around the exhibit was like walking into a wonderland of toys just waiting to come to life! Many cultural centers are dedicated to presenting traditional cultural experiences, reminding expatriates and their descendants of the beauty and pride of their heritage.
However, ResoBox is a little different as it is dedicated to infusing the world with Japanese art and culture, and to see how it changes and influences the world around it. The 3rd Annual Amigurumi
Amigurumi is the Japanese word ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. These small stuffed handmade crocheted or knitted dolls are usually animals; they can also be renderings of inanimate objects, often endowed with anthropomorphic features.
According to ResoBox, Amigurumi is part of the tradition of Animism. Animism is the belief that everything in this world has a soul or a spirit: water, food, nature, buildings and houses, even technology. In Japanese, this is called Yaoyorozu no Kami. In fact, Japanese people often put eyes, arms, and legs onto non-human objects and give them imaginary lives in order to feel closer to these objects and show them respect as co-existing partners in this world.
ResoBox reached out to 125 artists in 47 countries and asked them to try and use materials from their own countries such as special types of yarn, wood, wire, aluminum, felted fabric, ceramic, and glass. We had a chance not only to see traditional amigurumi made with incredible artistry, but also unusual materials we simply would never have imagined.
One of the artists showing at the exhibition was Lumièna, born in Okayama, in 1973. She dreams to be an Amigurumi nomad, holding just one crochet hook in her hand, traveling around the world, and making Amigurumi with the local people. She also teaches Amigurumi at Resobox as a guest instructor during her visits from Japan.
Amirugumi technique can often be found in children's toys all over the world. PebbleChild is an initiative launched by the NGO Hathay Bunao, employing over 20,000 women in rural Bangladesh. The women employed at PebbeChild use the Amirugumi technique to craft a lot of their toys. Hathay Bunano provides fairly paid, good quality, flexible and local employment to disadvantaged rural women. Hathay Bunano, means "handmade" or "hand-knitted" in Bangla. The toys are guaranteed to be fair trade and certified by the WFTO.
These toys are so endearing that it's not hard to believe that adorable bear and giraffe, hand crafted with so much love, really do have a soul! Would you like to meet them on our website? :)