DESTINATION MASTERS
Dento - Passing the Light in Japan
A unique, new concept keeping Japan’s ancient arts alive

By Antonia Suñer

Incredible Japan, the land of the rising sun, an archipelago of 6,852 islands, each one another facet of the beauty of this unique country. To spend time in Japan is to go beyond travel itself, a special travel experience in one of the world's most incredible destinations. A country of timeless beauty, awesome wonder, captivating cultural customs, ancient history, heavenly landscapes, sensational scenery and a seamless blend of tradition and new technology.

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This fascinating land is a land of endless discovery, from its snow-capped mountains and beautiful blooming blossoms to its ancient temples and tropical beaches. If you think you know Japan, you may want to revisit it, for it holds many a secret. Its surface is of modern high-tech design, but delve a little deeper and you will meet with its heart, with a beat that’s been echoing through its veins for centuries.

Japan’s traditional artisan spirit is in every thread of the fabric of its cultural heritage. Since the first inhabitants on the islands, skilled craftsmen have been passing down their knowledge to the next generation. Necessary every day hand-crafted items flourished into inspiringly beautiful works of art, made from natural materials such as wood, stone, paper, glass, ceramic and precious metals. Respect, appreciation and co-existence with nature is the very foundation of their artisan cultural history. The physical object as well as the process of its creation became embedded in Japan’s culture. The conscientiousness, respect and passion that runs through the Japanese craftsman’s veins are known as ‘shokunin kishitsu’, which means to take pride in who you are and the work you do. Like with any travel, the journey is just as valuable as the destination and these skilled men all share a desire to continue to enhance their craft and help to mould it so that it has a relevant place in a future destination. This Japanese value is all about continued learning and growth, both in who we are and what we do. This sense of purpose is a great lesson to us all and is what has given Japanese arts and crafts importance, admiration and longevity on the world’s stage.
"Like with any travel, the journey is just as valuable as the destination and these skilled men all share a desire to continue to enhance their craft and help to mould it so that it has a relevant place in a future destination"
"Learn about the arts directly from the artisans themselves"
"Their extensive knowledge and relationships within the destination will give you a truly authentic experience."
For centuries, Japanese artisans have shared an overwhelming passion to continue and protect these traditional techniques and beautiful, timeless ancient skills from disappearing. For the last five centuries, these skills have been passed down from master to boy but today, Japan’s artisans are finding less younger generations to pass these important cultural and cherished skills, traditional crafts and centuries-old methods on to. The younger generations live in the city, immersed in the modern world and these beautiful and ancient crafts are under threat of becoming part of Japan’s history and not its future culture.

We can access the world at a touch of a button, but no matter how good the technology, nothing can beat the combinations of a hands-on original experience, a unique journey into the past and tailor-made travel. The wonder of travel is an enriching experience indeed, a chance to witness and learn from other cultures, broaden our minds, and further gain inspiration and appreciation for the world and Japan offers all of this and more. It is a land of artistry, ancient craft, and natural heavenly beauty. Whilst travelling through, you are bound to be exposed to the country’s unique ways and customs, and there is no better way to immerse yourself into the country and through its traditions, than to learn about the arts directly from the artisans themselves, whilst helping to support their longevity. The best way to do this is to travel with a DMC, (destination management company).

Their extensive knowledge and relationships within the destination will give you a truly authentic and original travel experience and one of the best unique tours. They will take you beyond the surface of a country deep into the culture, its people and the essence.
One business that has been inspired to combine the preservation of these precious traditional crafts, their importance in our future and a brand new luxury travel experience, is a company called ‘Dento’. Dento means ‘passing of the light’ in Japanese, a beautifully captivating and inspiring metaphor in itself. For 10 years, Japan Dento Corporation’s mission has been its passion, to connect ancient craftsmanship to the future, through education and promotion to the global and luxury markets.

Dento’s birth came out of a moment of discovery, appreciation and inspiration. Whilst on a journey of a small village north of Kyoto, one of the founders of Dento was welcomed into an old wooden house. Despite its simplistic structure and interior, they stumbled upon extraordinary examples of Japanese craftsmanship on display in the house. These were true masterpieces, meticulous in their creation, made by artisans who have dedicated their lives to their craft.

These examples of craftsmanship were so exquisite, that they could be on display in any museum in the world, and yet in this little village, their makers were anonymous. The care and connection these people have for their natural environment runs throughout their work. They understand that all things are connected and are at one with the nature that they work with, shaping and moulding it into beautiful creations.

So overwhelmed and inspired by what had been discovered, Dento was created, its purpose to protect both the knowledge, culture and skills of these incredible craftspeople, to support in the search for the next generations of artisans and to continue the passing of this most precious light within new forms in today’s global luxury market and luxury experiences. They support innovation through the use of these treasured techniques, combining them with new materials to form new products. Their aim is to ensure that Japan’s craft culture stays relevant for now and the generations to come.


"Dento means "passing the light" in Japanese"
"Their aim is to ensure that Japan's craft culture stays relevant"
Behind Dento Japan are three passionate and influential individuals. Mineaki Saito, former Vice President of Hermés Paris believes that it’s time for luxury brands to evolve, to further incorporate both spiritual and emotional values. His passion for Japan’s natural Zen philosophy is the inspiration for the creation of a new kind of luxury market, one that consciously gives back to its creators and owner, whilst respecting the natural roots of the product. Alongside Saito is Kotari Nishibori, a fifth-generation successor of ‘Hiyoshiya’ who makes Kyo-wagasa, the beautifully crafted traditional Kyoto style umbrella. A firm believer that ‘tradition is continuing innovation’, he has been focusing on the developments of new products, made using the techniques of ‘Wagasa’ whilst adapting the construction and techniques slightly to give birth to new designs and products for today’s market. He has been collaborating with international artists, designers and makers, since 2008. Avi Lugasi is a key player in Dento. His passion for everything Japan represents and offers is almost tangible. He spent three years learning ‘Zen’ in a Zen monastery, through arts including Kyudo, Bonsai and Japanese pottery as well as many other forms of arts and crafts. His company ‘Windows to Japan’ showcases his passion, love and knowledge for the country through guided tours, and Dento has become another outlet for his enriching qualities.

It’s through the combined joy and wonder of these enlightened individuals, and their appreciation of this wonderful and inspirational culture, that Dento was born. Their concept is the epitome of inspiration, escapism, learning, culture immersion, education and connection of the past, present and future. Dento provides us with the opportunity for a new sense of travel, a new sense of luxury and a unique journey into creation, the arts and consciousness. Their work ensures that these new luxury products are more than just a 3D object to look at from time to time, but a multi-dimensional source of creation, beauty and inspiration, the destination of a cherished and enriching journey.

Dento works on two levels. On a domestic level, Dento’s ‘Passing of the Light Foundation’ works with universities to educate and find successors to both continue and evolve these

ancient crafts. Working alongside the Japanese government, they help to create educational programmes, internships and mentorships to inspire the next generations in this precious world of Japanese craftsmanship. A new generation now has the chance to join existing masters in their work and in some cases, the chance to take over some of the workspaces that otherwise may have been lost along with the older generations. As a DMC (destination management company), Dento offers the opportunity for their guests to travel to these more rural locations, to meet the craftsman, see them in their creative action and purchase their exquisite creations. Their relationships with designers, artists, specialists and fashion designers from around the globe offers the chance to create new products through collaborations with these talented Japanese artisans, giving tradition the opportunity to give birth to new innovation in the form of new luxury products.
"Dento's mission is to connect the luxury travel market to the world of Japanese craftsmanship"
"Japanese crafts culture is about the entire epic journey"
On an international level, Dento’s mission is to connect the luxury travel market to the world of Japanese craftsmanship through exhibitions at cultural events, offering a unique and rare insight into the world of these crafts, the communities and culture behind them. Through their events, lovers of design, art and culture now have the opportunity through this international luxury travel DMC, to travel into Japan and follow a trail diving deeper into its culture, old and new, to visit the communities and meet the craftspeople involved. There is even the opportunity to work with them to design and create bespoke, one-off unique items, a piece of art to connect with, something to pass on to the future. The outcome is nothing except enriching for all concerned; connection through a shared experience, the creation of a brand new piece of art and the chance to support a valuable community.

Dento are also working with these craftsmen to create brand new luxury products from the same techniques, making them relevant to a brand new audience and evolving them for the future. Through projects such as creating stunning interior design for luxury hotels, the epitome of luxury is showcased through the use of these enchanting arts.

Alongside their foundation, Dento are launching their own brand ‘Wabizo’, a luxury gift collection of contemporary Japanese craftworks, for the world's luxury market. This brand is an accumulation of their knowledge, experience and networking into the development and discovery of upcoming young and talented artists. Through this powerful new luxury brand, Wabizo will ensure that these cherished traditional crafts will continue to thrive through the production of innovative, high-quality, beguiling products. It is a new luxury brand with consciousness, creating timeless art to pass on to the next generation. 
Just like Japan’s age-old art of ‘Kintsugi’, where lacquer laced with gold is used to mend cracks in a bowl, the journey to any destination is part of the whole story, it's what makes travel so enriching. We can learn much from Japanese ways and culture. To live life is to celebrate the journeys we take and Japanese culture teaches us to embrace the whole journey. Japanese arts and crafts culture is about the entire epic journey, from the perfect materials given to us by nature, to their new forms through creation, and beyond into mindfulness and appreciation with each use of the product.

Japanese works of art are amongst some of the most beautiful on this planet, and thanks to the mindful work and insatiable passion of Dento, they will continue to shine their light and be a source of inspiration in our lives for years to come.

This captivating world of ours is now at our fingertips and the glorious wonder of travel is more accessible now than ever. As modern-day explorers, we are becoming more conscious about our travels and how we affect both the planet and each other. Giving back is becoming a universal theme as we wake up and realise that we all have a sense of responsibility to preserve this beautiful world of ours and all that has been created by us, by passing this light and inspiration into our tomorrow.
Antonia Suñer
                          
Born and raised in England, Antonia now lives on the island she loves the most, the place where her father was born and raised, beautiful Mallorca. A singer, songwriter and entrepreneur, her strong passion for the island led her to discover another natural talent and love, for writing. Her intention, to paint a picture with her words that inspires the reader. She is in awe of our wondrous planet and all the amazing gifts and enriching experiences that await discovery, through the wonder of travel.
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