Traditional Crafts in Echizen City, Surge in Inquiries
Canadian YouTuber, Greg Lam, published several videos about traditional crafts in Fukui Prefecture’s Echizen City; about a month and a half after being posted from the beginning of last December, the total view count for the videos had closed in on 800,000. Lam manages a popular YouTube channel with 1.2 million subscribers interested in Japanese history and tradition. The city has high expectations of its effects on bringing in foreign tourists.
Using funds through Japan’s Rural Area Development and Promotion Grant, and as part of the effort to boost the foreign tourism industry in 2020, Echizen City sent an invitation for Lam to visit the city.
“Life Where I’m From” is a popular YouTube channel geared towards western audiences; Lam, the channel manager, stayed in Echizen City last October, for 3 days and 2 nights. During his stay, he gathered information about the various production industries, including Echizen Uchihamono (forged blades), Echizen Washi (Japanese paper), and Echizen Tansu (traditional cabinets).
The city requested for Lam to publish one video; but from December 4th, Lam had posted three videos. The first video is about forged blades, and centred around an interview with Koji Masutani, company president of Ryusen Hamono (located in Ikenokami-cho).
“Echizen Uchihamono were my primary interested in the visit,” said Lam.
The video was not only a compilation of the manufacturing process, but also carefully captured the philosophy of the craftspeople, with Masutani stating, “What we believe is that we are breathing life into the blades.” Just under a month, the video had exceeded 600,000 views; by January 19th, it had reached approximately 792,000 views.
“This is a great video!” and “I love Japanese craftspeople!” were among the over 600 comments on the video.
The second video featured Lam in his home kitchen, putting into practice the sharpening and polishing techniques he was taught at Ryusen Hamono. The third video had a comprehensive look on the various traditional craft industries within the city. The video began with Echizen Tansu (traditional cabinets) and the mechanisms of its hidden compartments, and then there was a segment about the rich materials and designs of Echizen Washi (Japanese paper).
“The thing about Kyoto nowadays, is there’s a ton of tourists. Over in Echizen, you can get hands-on experience with traditional Japanese culture without the crowds,” said Lam, giving the city his seal of approval.
Even when comparing to Lam’s other videos, the audience response has been excellent.
“I’m very surprised with such a huge reaction,” said Masutani, commenting on the surge of inquiries Ryusen Hamono has been receiving from people overseas.
“The 800,000 view count should not be seen as insignificant, as sprinkling water in a desert; these are 800,000 counts of the interest people have in Japan. It must be the appeal of this special market,” said a city associate, reacting to the online response.