Starting December 1, Creation Gallery G8 and Guardian Garden—two galleries in Tokyo’s Ginza district operated by Recruit Holdings—will jointly host an exhibition of wooden “masu” boxes. The exhibition is the 2020 edition of the annual charity event known as “Creation Project.” This year’s show will take place through a collaboration involving 160 creative artists, who each designed a masu box, and artisans of Ogaki, a city of modest size located in southwestern Gifu Prefecture, who handcrafted them.
“Masu” are square wooden boxes originally developed for use as measuring utensils. They evolved into a number of standard sizes that served as units of measurement primarily for rice and other grains. Gradually, this practical role was largely replaced by other uses: for example, as attractive receptacles for small items and, quite commonly, as containers for drinking saké. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the user.
Masu boxes are made from hinoki, Japanese cypress, a native wood prized for its visual beauty and fragrant scent. The boxes are environmentally harmonious in that their wood components are assembled from remnants of processed lumber, i.e. no trees are cut specifically to make masu boxes. They are also cherished for the homophonic connection between “masu,” the wooden box, and “masu,” a verb meaning “to increase,” which gives the wooden masu auspicious overtones.
The city of Ogaki produces roughly 80 percent of all masu boxes made in Japan. Despite changing times and consumption patterns, even today Ogaki remains home to three major producers. Here, highly skilled artisans craft these beautiful square boxes, one by one, without use of nails, preserving the necessary technical skills and time-honored tradition. Although modern tastes have changed and there are fewer celebratory occasions when masu boxes play a propitious role, the myriad ways in which these elegant items are creatively used give them new values in our contemporary times.
The exhibition at Creation Gallery G8 and Guardian Garden will also feature masu boxes designed by children in “Creation Kids Lab 2020,” a workshop held online this August.
The items designed by the 160 participating creative artists will be available for purchase at the two galleries and online. The proceeds will be donated to the “Save the Children” charity organization for allocation to support children in families adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, children affected by the flood disasters of July 2020, etc.
We hope many people will take this opportunity to participate in this worthy charity event.
¥2,200 (tax included)
At the galleries: All Masu on display will be available for purchase at the two galleries during the exhibition.
Online: The items on exhibit will be available for online purchase from December 1 through January 31, 2021. Items sold out at the galleries can be ordered online (made-to-order) between December 1 and December 25; after December 25, only remaining stock will be available for online purchase. All items will be shipped in February and March 2021.
URL: https://store.ponparemall.com/rcc-gallery/ (Japanese language only).
Allocation of Proceeds
Proceeds from this event (after production costs) will be donated to the “Save the Children” charity organization. The funds will be used in Japan to support children in families adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or those affected by the flood disasters of July 2020, and also to help relieve child poverty, prevent child abuse, and support children living in disaster zones.
Organizers and Venues
Creation Gallery G8
Recruit Ginza8 Bldg., 1F, 8-4-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8001
Hulic Ginza 7-chome Bldg., B1F, 7-3-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8227
Yuki Moriya (documentary), Ryuta Nasu (Masu)
Creation Project is a series of annual exhibitions launched in 1990 as a charity event that also conveys the fun and enjoyment of art and design to a large number of people. Each year works created on a noncommercial basis by artists with links to the two galleries have been displayed and offered for sale, and the proceeds have been donated to various charity causes. In 2009 the name “Creation Project” was adopted. From 2011 through 2015, the project was conducted to support recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 2011, generating donations totaling approximately ¥11.34 million. In 2016 a donation in the amount of ¥1.58 million was made in support of recovery from that year’s series of severe earthquakes in the Kumamoto region. Since 2017 the scope of production bases for the featured items has been expanded nationwide, and the project serves to demonstrate, through the power of design, Japan’s traditional craftsmanship and industrial capabilities. Under this format, in 2017 and 2018 a total of ¥1.44 million was donated to the “Save the Children” charity organization.
Creation Project 2011: Tote Bags Made in East Japan
Creation Project 2012: EAST ALOHA
Creation Project 2013: Little Handbags from Ishinomaki
Creation Project 2014: Japanese-style Notebooks from Tohoku
Creation Project 2015: Date Knitting
Creation Project 2016: Indigo Cups
Creation Project 2017: Tube Socks
Creation Project 2018: Small Oborisoma-ware Plates
Creation Project 2019: Furoshiki Kaleidoscope