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CHF 14,411
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86
backers
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Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, January 12 2016 2:54 PM UTC +00:00
Michel BieleckiBy Michel Bielecki
First created
Michel BieleckiBy Michel Bielecki
First created
CHF 14,411
pledged of CHF 55,000pledged of CHF 55,000 goal
86
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, January 12 2016 2:54 PM UTC +00:00

About

Craftsmanship and Samurai

You may have heard stories about the legendary Samurai warriors of imperial Japan, a kingdom that persisted as an enigmatic, isolated haven of tradition for centuries.

You probably think this age is long-gone, wiped out by industrialization. But part of it is still alive: Swords, knives, woodcraft, pottery, and other traditional products are still manufactured by the same artisan families, with the exact same techniques.

These families are hanging by a thread, though: Their market is shrinking, successors are hard to find, and the world’s oldest handicraft workshops might soon disappear.

That’s why we are going to tell their story. With your help, a team of 6 people will travel through Japan to capture some of the finest craftsmen of our time in their struggle to keep their ancestors’ know-how alive in a recklessly modernizing economy

Nigara, Hirosaki: 8th generation swords maker
Nigara, Hirosaki: 8th generation swords maker

Whats been done so far

Using minimal resources, we've toured around Japan, and already completed the shooting for roughly 20% of the documentary and edited it. 

We want you to include you into the decision what traditional crafts you want to see in the documentary! Post feedback, comment, we will gather all ideas, put it up to a vote, find the craftsmen, travel to where they are and film them! You participate in the decision of what will be featured in the documentary

Special appearances

For the documentary we will be musically accompanied by the talented award winning harpist Sasha Boldachev. We will have a special appearance by Tokyo legend Bill Hersey, who travelled all around the world to gather handicraft years ago.  We will also get an exclusive interview and support from Christine Ax, a leading specialist when it comes to handicraft in modern society. 

We are currently working on getting another very famous individual, whom people call the "modern samurai" nowadays to take part in the documentary. We will keep you updated about the progress!

Who we are

In 2014 Michel Bielecki, the leader behind this project, funded a startup in Japan to promote traditional handicraft. You can get to know him in the video above.

As the Japanese market for traditional handicraft products is shrinking, we are trying to establish them on the international market in order to save this century-old art. Language barriers are the chief reason why these products have rarely been offered outside Japan so far.

This is why he created ZenPuls, an online platform that focuses on the craftsmen, the story behind their products, and enables people to also get in touch with the craftsmen.

Urushii, Kanazawa 9th generation
Urushii, Kanazawa 9th generation

But when he talked to his  artisan partners, he felt that there is much  more that can be for them. With ZenPuls, he can reach out to people who are already interested in traditional handicraft. But by starting a new personal project, which is there to portray the artisans’ struggle in a documentary, we can raise awareness in a wider public.

That’s why he put together a team of highly capable filmmakers, animators and photographers who are passionate about the realization of this documentary. Here they are:

Michel Bielecki, Director and Producer 

23 years old, developed an early fascination for traveling and getting to know new cultures and people what led him to learn 7 languages (and counting). Since an early age he was fascinated with biology and sciences and is currently graduating in Medicine at the University of Zurich. He became thoroughly infatuated with Japan when traveling, founded a startup that deals with traditional craftsmanship and is temporarily at the Keio Medical School in Tokyo. He is the driving force behind creating this documentary and is involved in every aspect to make it a success.

Michelle Basco, Animator, Editor, Web Designer  

Passion has never been scarce to a lady named Michelle. Because of her inherent dedication, she commits excellence in all of her works. She’s a Multimedia Artist, who focuses on film, photography and design. Originally from the Philippines and now studying Japanese Language in Tokyo, Japan. Her edge is always having a unique perspective of things. Her curiosity to experiment on different techniques and styles give her the look of Michelle Basco trademark.

T.C. Deane, Videographer 

Sight and Sound have always been my fascination . Since a certain movie burst on the scene in 1977, I was wowed and knew what I wanted to do then , at 11 years old . I have grown since then but have not lost my fascination . Music , Sight and Sound make a story come to life for me . I hope one day to be a master at that craft . I have done Sound on a Documentary for NHK , and Post production for a film now hosted on National Geographic , as well as Commercials , and Indie Films.

Anthony Wood, Photographer 

Originally from the American Midwest, Anthony is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan, where he specializes in on-location traditional Japanese portraiture and headshot photography . He has spent more than eight years living and working in Japan. He currently resides in the slower-paced and quieter rural Japanese countryside with his wife and young son.

Junko Wood, Interviewer 

Junko was born and raised in Chiba Prefecture. After graduating from university, she entered work at an investment banking firm in Tokyo for nine years. She now runs her own aromatherapy business and spends much time assisting her husband with his photography endeavours.

Satoki Kon, Assistant                                                                              

Aged 22, Satoki Kon has already traveled to different European and Asian countries and the US. His travels have brought him into contact with many cultures outside of Japan. He is currently studying Japanology and Marketing at Osaka University. There he has helped many international students study Japanese and spend their lives in Japan and is currently living in an international share-house. His English ability highly evaluated by the university, he was sent to the US to promote the exchange program of Osaka University. Fascinated by Michel’s enthusiasm towards business and Japanese traditional culture, he decided to work for him as an intern. For this project, he will work on the customer relationship management with Japanese people.

Daniel Ballmer, creative writer

Aged 24, Daniel Ballmer always has half a dozen projects going at once. Starting out as a child prodigy in biology, he went on to work as an environmentalist in New Caledonia and Switzerland, found two improv groups, adapt and co-author several theatre plays and write a variety of sketches, articles and opinion pieces. He is currently studying political science and biology in Zürich, working for a nature park and acting as artistic director of Hirschwahn, a Swiss improv group. For this project, he will mainly work on the script, edit media texts and annoy the team with facts about rare animals.

Sid Jackson, Designer 

Rewards 

Hand-crafted awards:

Attention: Every single reward is being hand-made for you. The rewards, that have "Including Kanji" written on them, will include a Kanji (Chinese Character) of your choice calligraphed on it. Since every handmade award is unique, the pictures are there to give you an idea on how they will look like, they might slightly vary case by case.

UPDATE: All physical rewards come with a download link! 

(You can find HD pictures of the awards at the bottom) 

Nosaku awards:

Nosaku photo frame
Nosaku photo frame
Nosaku vase
Nosaku vase
Nosaku phone strap
Nosaku phone strap
Nosaku Jewellery box
Nosaku Jewellery box

Nigara awards: 

Nigara "samurai" kitchen knife
Nigara "samurai" kitchen knife
Nigara kitchen knife
Nigara kitchen knife
Nigara's best knife
Nigara's best knife

 Anthony Wood's photo rewards:

(click for big version) 

CLICK FOR HD VERSION
CLICK FOR HD VERSION

Risks and challenges

- All artisans gave us a permission to film already
- We produce everything ourselves so there won't be any copyright issues
- We already filmed around 20% of the documentary.

Thus the risk is very low as the only thing that will prevent us from completing this documentary might a natural catastrophe. Or you not funding us.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 3 or more About US$ 3

    Thank you email, updates throughout the production.

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    Thank you mention in credits

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    Pledge CHF 20 or more About US$ 20

    Production diary and download link

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    HD digital download + Production diary

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 32 or more About $32

    NOSAKU MOTHER OF PEARL KEY CHAIN

    Have a keychain made out of rare Japanese wood and lacquered by a 9th craftsman using ancient Japanese techniques with your keys.

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    DVD + Production diary

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    Pledge CHF 75 or more About US$ 75

    Set of photos + DVD + Production diary

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    Pledge CHF 85 or more About $85

    NOSAKU KANJI PLATE:

    Have a wooden plate with a Kanji (Chinese character) of your choice calligraphed on it by our 9th generation urushii craftsman from Kanazawa
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 130 or more About $129

    NIGARA PENDANT: Our blacksmith from Hirosaki, Aomori will make a pendant for you. He will use material that was used to forge katanas , you will be wearing a piece of history around your neck.
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 200 or more About $199

    NOSAKU PHOTO FRAME:

    Put the picture of your loved once in a photo frame produced with ancient techniques using gold powder and mother of pearl.
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 240 or more About $239

    NIGARA PAPER WEIGHT
    You're working in an office or from home and want to have a piece of history holding your papers together? Our blacksmith will forge a paper weight for you, made from the same material Katanas are made.
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 500 or more About US$ 497

    Co-Producer mention in credits.
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    Pledge CHF 600 or more About $597

    NOSAKU FLOWER POT

    This is a very unique product. This vase has to be lacquered at the same time from two sides to achieve the pattern you see in the photo (see description). Made by our 9th generation lacquerware maker from Kanazawa
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 700 or more About $696

    NIGARA SAMURAI KITCHEN-KNIFE

    A piece of art made with the same technique Katanas used to be made, designed to cut fish and meat. Whether you put it behind a glass wall to watch it in awe or whether you're a hobby-master cook , this is not something you want to miss.
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 700 or more About $696

    A framed, 8 x 12 inch (203 x 305 mm) professional quality photo (of your choice) by photographer Anthony Wood.
    SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PICTURES
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 800 or more About $796

    A framed, A3-sized (297 x 420 mm / 11.7 x 16.5 inch) professional quality photo (of your choice) by photographer Anthony Wood.
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    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 900 or more About $895

    A framed, A2-sized (420 x 594 mm / 16.5 x 23.4 inch) professional quality photo (of your choice) by photographer Anthony Wood.
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    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 1,000 or more About $995

    A 16 x 24 inch (406 x 610 mm) image (of your choice) by photographer Anthony Wood printed on a sheet of aluminum. Backing for wall mounting included.
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    Pledge CHF 1,200 or more About $1,194

    NIGARA SANTOKU KITCHEN KNIFE + KANJI
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 1,600 or more About $1,592

    NOSAKU JEWELLERY BOX:

    A piece of art that takes half a year to complete working on. Made by our 9th generation lacquerware maker from Kanazawa

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    Pledge CHF 3,500 or more About $3,482

    NOSAKU PICTURE PLATE

    A decorative plate decorated made with traditional Japanese lacquerware and decorated with pure gold and mother of pearl.
    + Download link

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    Pledge CHF 6,950 or more About $6,914

    NIGARA TSUGARU-NURI gold powder
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    Pledge CHF 7,000 or more About US$ 6,964

    Join the documentary filming!
    Join us for a tour throughout Japan for three weeks, all expenses covered. You will meet all the craftsmen, see the production processes, and get a completely unique view visiting the most exotic parts of Japan.
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Funding period

- (30 days)