Visit to TASK – Project Task 2

A Sunday morning in late March, 2019.  I was waiting for a train bound for Sonobe at Platform 33 in Kyoto Station.  I was the first or second on the line but soon the line got quite long with people mainly with hiking boots and a backpack.  I had no idea this local line would be so popular on weekend.   It was my first time to get off the train at Sonobe Station, which is 44 minutes from Kyoto.

The train came.  I got in and took the seat by the window.  The train left the station on time (you know, it’s Japan).  The tall concrete buildings passing by the window soon became wooden houses sparsely built between rice fields, then turned to lush green of trees and deep blue of river water in the valley.  I had just remembered that this region is one of the most popular hiking courses in Kyoto.  Many people in hiking boots got off the train at Hozukyo Station.

The view from the window soon returned to rice fields and houses with trees in the back.  Sonobe was the last stop for this train. Everybody got off including me. 

A bus from TASK was waiting at the station.  I got on the bus with a few other people, many of them in a group of two, one young and the other older.

I had registered for an open campus.  Anybody can sign up, but the main target audience was those high school students who were considering applying for TASK.  The younger person must be the potential student and the older person his/her parent. 

It took only 10 minutes or so to get to TASK campus.  After the registration, we were all drawn to the auditorium.  An administrator welcomed us, and another person took over and introduced himself.  Kudo-sensei (sensei means teacher), a long time teacher here and also a master potter,  started the presentation.

Here is the summary of Kudo-sensei’s presentation about Traditional Arts Super College of Kyoto (TASK).

“TASK was founded in 1995, with the main guiding principle of fostering successors of Japan’s traditional craft industry.  It’s the only college that three parties (Japanese government, Kyoto Prefecture, and Kyoto’s traditional craftsmen society) collaborate for its founding.  At TASK, the students learn the basics of traditional arts and crafts as well as practical applications through the school curriculum consisting of lectures and practical lessons.  The instructors at TASK are all master craftspeople who have years of experience and expertise in respective fields.

TASK offers the following courses: 1) pottery, 2) wood carving, 3) Buddhist sculpture, 4) woodwork, 5) Japanese lacquer, 6) maki-e lacquer decoration, 7) metal work, 8) bamboo work, 9) handmade paper art, and newly added 10) Yuzen hand-painted kimono decoration.

TASK started out as a 2-year vocational school.  Two years, however, was too short for the students to learn wide range of knowledge and obtain necessary skills.  In 2007 TASK extended its course to 4 years and was reorganized as a college.

In the first and the second year, the students learn the basic techniques thoroughly by repeating many times.  The students of pottery course, for example, first spend hours kneading the clay.  Then, in order to master making one item, the students must make at least 100 pieces of the same item.

Once the students obtain the basic skills, they go on to their creative projects in the third and the fourth year.  They are encouraged to collaborate with his/her classmates who are studying different courses. 

The students spend 50% of the time learning and mastering their own courses.  They spend the rest of the time learning wide range of subjects including Japan’s traditional culture such as ikebana, tea ceremony, calligraphy, and Japanese art history (especially the history of Kyoto).  They also learn English, chromatics, basic computer skills, and basic business administration.

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