Of course (of course!) it goes without saying that we could not visit Japan without trying to see if we could visit The Superior Labor in Okayama. The Superior Labor studio, factory, shop and family home are located in Okayama prefecture, about an hour’s flight outside Tokyo.
While Tokyo is clean and modern with a hint of old world, coming outside of the city was beautiful. It’s lush green hills and valleys, and a lot of much older style buildings. A change of pace, for sure.
We arrived with our children and our general dishevelment after a few weeks of travel, but the hospitality of The Superior Labor family and team knows no bounds—it was an incredible experience to visit them and to visit with them and to take in all that they do in their beautiful space.
It’s hard to put it all into words, but you know I’m going to try anyways. Given my limited skills, I am unable to fit it all into one post, and so this will be (hopefully) a little mini-series within all of our Japan posts, soon to be followed by several Hong Kong posts, according to my most idealistic plans. A shopkeeper can dream.
This first post will mostly be photos—a look at some of the spaces that make up The Superior Labor.
The Superior Labor has a shop where you can see not only their standard lines, but also some specialty items, historic pieces, and different materials. You can stop by anytime during their opening hours. They have a cafe that serves both hot and cold beverages. I had an excellent iced coffee.
Just up from the shop is the famous studio workshop and factory. The renovated schoolhouse in front is where much of the design work happens, along with a lot of steps that require some of the larger machines, like cutting leather.
Behind the schoolhouse is a building with a dozen or more machines that stitch many of their canvas and other goods.
And so we were introduced to the dream world of The Superior Labor.
We stumbled bleary eyed off a late morning flight (for which we had to wake up no earlier than normal) and found ourselves both completely stunned and so graciously welcomed into another family’s creation.
As I look back on this portion of our Japan trip, scrolling through photos and flipping through pages in my journal, it’s unsettling to consider the difference just a few weeks and a short plane ride has made in our journey. I’m currently in Hong Kong, amidst much, much going on. We are, of course, staying safe while also watching, with bated breath, things unfolding.