Los Angeles Japan House: Hida Exhibition
The Japan House gallery seeks to foster awareness and appreciation for Japan around the world by showcasing the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, technology, and more. Composed of three hubs: London, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo; it is an international project that came about from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Hida region of Japan is a region of mountains and valleys perfect for supporting a variety of trees and landscapes. Because of this diversity, the terrain produces high-quality and sturdy timber famously cultivated by Hida woodworkers.
The “Hida” exhibition is featured at the Japan House showroom which can be found in the heart of Hollywood on the equally famous Hollywood Boulevard. The exhibition introduces the woodwork art of “Hida”, a tradition that has been nurtured for 1,300 years. The craft has been preserved and sustained by the master craftsman of the Hida region who are referred to as the Hida no takumi; thanks to the Hida no takumi the continued application of a wealth of woodcraft techniques have been sought after by various buyers around the world.
In Japan, approximately 70% of the trees are Cryptomeria Japonica, commonly called Japanese cedar or sugi. This unique species is such an important tree in the Hida environment that its scientific name translates to “hidden treasure of Japan.” Japanese cedar was once considered too soft for crafting furniture so an innovative compression technique was developed to strengthen it. The Hida no takumi show true dedication to their craft by considering the realities of nature and how the ever-changing yearly temperatures affect timber and at times, elicit slower tree growth. Because of the rich history of the Hida no takumi, the techniques and inspiration of the master craftsmen of Hida have been handed down to successive generations cultivating this legacy.
A few of these one-of-a-kind valuable wooden assets were on display in the brightly-lit venue of the Japan House. The smooth and thoughtful curvature of the wooden attractions were highlighted by the contrasting floor-to-ceiling glass walls and dividers. Guests were guided in a complex loop of Japanese history and its coinciding artwork reflecting the progression of human capabilities. In this exhibition, visitors are encouraged to consider the attraction and potential of wood as well as Japan’s relationship to the material.