About Us

Shokunin (職人) and Spirit

SHO - Our Identity / Company’s name / the Brand came from Shokunin (職人). As the Japanese word ‘shokunin’ , is often translated as ‘artisan’ in English, yet the translation seems to lose the spirit of what a shokunin does. The word shokunin in colloquial Japanese has a broad definition, and there is wide variety among shokunin.

In old and rural Japan, anonymous shokunin’s lives revolve around the changing seasons and what nature provides at different times. In contrast to anonymous folk crafts, some shokunin’s names are known and associated with prized works. These shokunin often make a one-of-a-kind product that is highly appreciated for its sophisticated aesthetics. Some highly specialized shokunin work only on a single stage of the production process. Some work together with others devoted to traditional shrine architecture.

With the profession of shokunin manifested in so many diverse ways, our curiosity is wandering around what the commonalities are between them. We are perplexed around the question, what makes their work fundamentally different from simply artisanal work?

The complexity of the shokunin spirit exists beyond the confines of an occupation. We are not obliged to draw boundaries or define who qualifies as a shokunin because we may be limiting our understanding of the ways in which such spirit is manifested in this world. That is why we try to exploit their spirit over what they do. Discovering and/or defining the spirit can only be a proper expression of Shokunin or our identity, SHO. What comprises the complexity of the SPIRIT are layers of Devotion over time or often generations, Earnest effort against challenges, Developing technique in detail, and Community beyond individualism.

Their end results, whether it is a material or craft or whatever that is, exhibit their spirit. It is the essence of what Shokunin is and what we are trying to pursue. The work of shokunin continues to evolve as each generation contributes to the tradition, and under that, the spirit is the energy. At the end of the day, shokunin’s products serve the community. It is the altruistic attitude, or ‘non-individualistic’ attitude that ties all these essences of Shokunin together. That is what we all appreciate. At the end of the journey for defining Shokunin, we realize that Shokunin (職人) is around us and everywhere and that spirit in them and among them has to be realized and to fly(翔). It is SHO Eyeworks’ philosophy and ご希望 (Hope), not just a brand.


Spirit of SHO