You may have noticed that The California Workshop appears to have an undeniable Japanese influence. We don't have Japanese ancestors that we know of but we do have some shared values.
Woodworking in Japan is a long respected and preserved tradition. It goes back centuries to a time of woodworking guilds that protected the secrets of their trade.
Why are the Japanese so skilled in this area? To start with, Japan is a country with abundant forests that encouraged the use of wood as a raw material when masonry was commonly paired with wood construction in Europe. The tradition of woodworking is unbroken from a time when the use of metal for fasteners or joinery was unavailable. And over the centuries, Chinese carpenters and their skills and practices were absorbed by the Japanese guilds. Also, woodworking was intimately tied to spiritual practices as shrines and temples were routinely constructed and reconstructed in a diciplined, traditional, and mindful manner. A perfect storm for mastery....
In many cases, woodworkers would go into the forest and select a tree for a specific project. Today there are woodworkers that determine what they will make based on the piece of wood that they have available. The wood "chooses" its purpose and it is a manner of giving the wood a second life. While we are unable to do this yet at our shop, we admire and share the appreciation for the tree and the thoughtfulness in execution.
So back we go to work, striving to appreciate as much as we can of the delicate nuanced skills of a centuries old trade.