The Learning Spiral: Hearing, Seeing, Doing

by Jay van Arsdale (adapted from The Wooden Post Vol. 6 March 2017)

Late last century, Daiku in Japan realized the need to expose and promote their ancient crafts and industry to the larger population. The goal they had in mind was to interest more young people to consider joining their ranks.

What started out as local shop gatherings and demos, inviting people into a world that was essentially closed off to them for centuries, networked over a few years to become semi-annual gatherings across Japan. Attendance at these events now reaches 10,000 attendees and has cities across Japan vying for hosting these events, with much government assistance.

We founders of Kezurou-kai USA look down that road and can only dream of that kind of impact. Our more immediate goal is much more humble. We want to spread the enjoyment and work practicality of the tools and techniques that we share as a group.

Our outreach to all of you started with our annual events, last fall hosting 12 Daiku for our event at Hakone Gardens and Los Gatos High School. Our Japanese friends traveled to share with us their expertise and met with our mostly raw enthusiasm. They are dedicated to helping us in ways that will expose and engage our talents in a more specific work aesthetics and en- hance our hand work skills.

Two components rest in this approach. 

One of our missions is to promote local shop gatherings around the country run by those who have space, time, and dedication to organize these events. There are numerous skilled craftspeople around the country who are capable to do this. A second is, we are here to help this networking process. We have people in our organization that can be sent to your locations to facilitate these meetings with content loaded into short workshops. The strategy would result in deeper preparation for those who choose to come to Northern California for our future events with the Japanese masters who come to share with us.

Finding other like-minded woodworkers and other interested parties in your area can build the potential to advance knowledge, skills and friendships. Once there are active small groups around the country, Kez USA could send some of our more experienced people to lead workshops and more specific skilled topics. For those not living near the SF Bay Area, this should be a more practical and economic investment of time, effort, and expense.

We at Kez USA are considering the development of this kind of program and ask for your feedback in coordinating this local regional approach. If you are interested in starting a local gathering, have an adequate shop, or more creative ideas, let us know.

We know there are many ways to advance down this long road of developing working skills and knowledge. Sometimes it is little by little – reading a book, other times just seeing someone work makes things clearer. But actually getting the tool in hand and doing it yourself is the real deal and worth all it takes to get to that more productive point. We feel that these local gatherings will spark the interest and interaction needed to promote the access to things known and all the other unrealized workings of hand tool mastery. The point of all this is when you come to our larger events with the Daiku, you will be in a more open and curious position to absorb the teachings that are being passed on to us all.

This grass roots outreach is basic to our mission. We don’t want to be a top down administration – we want to join with you to meet your needs and develop our work to a broader interested group of people wanting to know more and learn what makes a difference.

If you are interested and have productive ideas along these lines, let us know. We are here to offer our assistance and expertise. Let’s join together and create sustainable activities that we can all build on.


Norio Hata at work on a post for the Hakone Gardens arbor – Oct 2016