I just came back from a two week trip to Japan. What an amazingly beautiful, sophisticated , refined culture. I felt so at home there, which was a surprise, I expected to feel very out of place. They even drive on the left like Great Britain, and like my home country there is a restraint in the culture, although the sense of community and caring is more apparent than any place, I have ever visited. This sense of care extends to everything , the care with which food is presented and the particular care with ingredients, using a lot of seasonal foods as a link to nature. The use of ceramics as a way to present the food, but also to show the beauty of the handmade. It is a culture that revers the hand made.
All the crafts seem to be held in high esteem. In a department stores huge sections devoted to ceramics. Lots of examples of fabrics , knitted goods, woodworking elevated to a place of importance with seeming respect for the crafts person. I felt very at home visually with this care and importance for how things look. It was a kind of ease I felt there. Sometimes living in the US, I feel as though there is an adversarial relationship, between art and the people.
When my son was in Elementary school in our town of La Verne, I got involved in the Beautification Committee intent on improving the school environment. We did a lot of landscaping and tree planting. I also made a tile mural around two huge windows on the front of the kindergarten building, based on drawings the kids did . At the time our group faced a lot of controversy, apparently a lot of other parents felt that, beautifying the school had little to do with learning. I would say that the Japanese people know intrinsically that having beauty in peoples lives in a human need.