Craftsman, Shirakawa-go, Japan

By | 2013-09-25T05:01:31+00:00 September 26, 2013|Categories: Asia, Japan, Photo of the Day, Unesco World Heritage Sites|Tags: |3 Comments

Japanese craftsman Shirakowa-goThe village of Shirakowa-go, Japan is a Unesco World Heritage site. It used to be an isolated village that employed a unique style of thatched roof architecture to ward off the persistent heavy winter snows, and the town had largely fallen into disrepair. But, over the last decades, since being named a Unesco site, it has prospered from the resultant tourism and the residents have been working hard to restore the original beauty of their unique architectural style. As you walk through the town, you can see evidence of the restoration by skilled craftsmen working on several buildings. In this one, the woodworker was doing finish sanding on a piece of a screen that tops an interior wall. In addition to the lovely simplicity of the cut out design, the screen allows airflow between interior spaces.

One always asks before shooting a picture of a person in Japan. This craftsman was cordial enough to allow me to fire away while he worked. It helped that I told him I was a woodworker as well, although my own skill level, I’m sure, is far below this guy’s. Pretty easy shot really, just crank up the ISO to 1600 and expose at f/5.0 at 1/400 sec. I like to keep my shutter speeds fast with the Nikon D800E because the huge file size and absurdly sharp 24-70 f/2.8 lens magnifies any camera shake dramatically.

For more info on the equipment I use, see this page.


  1. Corinne September 27, 2013 at 8:59 am - Reply

    This was one of my favorite spots in Shiragawa. So interesting. The Japanese have a special relationship with the things they choose to do with their lives. They don’t try to do to many, but what they do, they do extremely well.

  2. Tom Bartel September 27, 2013 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Corinne, I was a fairly serious woodworker for many years, and the more I learned about it, the more I realized the Japanese style and craft of woodworking is beyond anything westerners do. Aside from their sense of aesthetics, their joinery is a work of art in itself. They were unaware of strong glues westerners have been using for centuries, so their joints had to be much more intricate than ours to impart a mechanical, as well as gluing strength to their pieces. It’s phenomenal, as well as beautifully artistic stuff. I love it.

  3. Corinne September 27, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I personally don’t know much about wood-working, but the Japanese are “masters” at whatever they choose as either a job or a hobby. One time I was skiing in northern Japan. I got into a conversation with a older man who was waiting for his ski instructor. He had been taking ski lessons for over 30 years, because there is always something more to learn he said!

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