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Takumi Asakawa amd rediscovery of soban

Posted March. 09, 2017 07:03,   

Updated March. 09, 2017 07:11


"Baekja Resembling Person Becomes Joseon's Soil," a movie jointly produced by Korea and Japan in 2012, is a story about Takumi Asakawa. He moved to Korea in 1914 along with his elder brother, Noritaka Asakawa. He always was dressed in Korean traditional wearing "hanbok" and spoke Korean. He devoted himself in making greener Korean mountains and loved and collected Korean baekja and other craft items.

Yanagi Muneyoshi, a famous folk craft researcher, became interested in Korean crafts thanks to the Asakawa brothers. In 1916, the elder brother gave Yanagi a blue baekja as present, which made Yanagi become attracted to Korean craftwork. The Asakawa brothers and Yanagi gathered Joseon's porcelains and wood and metal crafts, eventually setting up the Joseon National Art Institution in 1924.

In the movie, Takumi Asakawa was called a person resembling baekja. This is because he collected and researched baekja. However, there is something equally important as baekja. It is soban. Takumi collected and studied soban, and published a booked titled "Joseon's Soban" in 1929, which marked Korea's first research on soban. An excerpt from the book says, "He loved Korean soban more than Korean people. Joseon's soban embodies a humble beauty and is in a neat posture, and adds beauty scent further as it became more familiar in our daily life."

Until then, soban was an ordinary daily product. However, Takumi discovered beauty in it. At the museum, people started to appreciate the beauty of soban. A daily product became an artwork. Nowadays, people like soban and feel beauty in it, which is thanks to Takumi Asakawa.

Takumi died of acute pneumonia while preparing a tree planting event in Seoul in 1931. His funeral was carried out in a Korean style, and people bore biers in their shoulders. He rests in a sunny place with the Han River in front at the Mangwoo Historical Culture Park in Seoul. In front of his tomb lies a piece of rock in a pot shape. It is a sculpture that his brother made with a Joseon baekja motif a year after he died. The tombstone reads, "A Japanese becomes Korean soil who had loved Korean mountains and crafts and lived in Korean's hearts." April 2 marks Takumi Asakawa's death.