Do Americans have bad taste? It’s a question we discussed here a few months back. Related, here’s a piece where Kenya Hara discusses Japanese aesthetics.

When coming back to Tokyo from abroad, my first impression usually is: What a dull airport! And yet it’s clean, neat and the floors deeply polished. To the Japanese eye, there’s a particular sense of beauty in the work of the cleaning staff. It’s in the craftman’s spirit — “shokunin kishitsu” — which applies to all Japanese professionals, be they street construction workers, electricians or cooks…

There is a similar craftman’s spirit (“shokunin kishitsu” or “shokunin katagi”) in Europe. Yet in Europe I can see it coming alive only from a certain level of sophistication. –In Japan, even ordinary jobs such as cleaning and cooking are filled with this craftman’s spirit. It is is common sense in Japan.

Hara also discusses why Japanese cooks prefer knives without any ergonomic shape.

A flat handle is not seen as raw or poorly crafted. On the contrary, its perfect plainness is meant to say, “You can use me whichever way suits your skills.” The Japanese knife adapts to the cook’s skill (not to the cook’s thumb). This is, in a nutshell, Japanese simplicity.


[thx Eva]