Culture

In Japan, It Takes 60,000 Hours to Become a Master of Your Craft-Here’s Why

That’s the equivalent of eight hours of work a day, 240 days a year, for over 30 years.
In Japan, It Takes 60,000 Hours to Become a Master of Your Craft-Here’s Why

There is a popular belief that a person needs at least 10,000 hours of practice to be considered a master of any field or skill. This idea—which is often associated with pop psychologist Malcolm Gladwell—suggests that while natural talent exists, what separates the good from the great is the amount of time and effort that are invested into honing abilities.

In Japan, however, the notion is that mastering your craft requires at least 60,000 hours—the equivalent of study and practice for eight hours a day, 240 days a year, for over 30 years. Within this time, one becomes a master through a deliberate honing of skill and an uncompromising commitment to excellence. Those who do so are known as takumi, master craftspeople or artisans. For the takumi, their craft is second nature. Their skills are informed by wisdom gained through experience, and imbue their works with functionality and emotional beauty.

The philosophy of takumi can be seen in Japan’s most iconic food: sushi. To become an itamae (or chef) of sushi, one needs to undergo many years of training. During apprenticeship, one must master every aspect of sushi, from the rice to the fish to serving. A true sushi chef is sensitive to precision, pressure, texture, and temperature when slicing and forming sushi.

Of course, takumi is also central to Japanese handicrafts and art. Kirie or paper-cutting transforms a single sheet of paper into an intricate design or image. This is usually done using washi paper and a bladed instrument. It requires keen attention to detail, a deep understanding of how the paper feels, bends, and cuts, and tremendous concentration and discipline. Making even the tiniest mistake would mean having to start all over again.

Renowned kirie master Nahoko Kojima has been doing paper-cutting since the age of five and would spend five to 10 hours a week practicing as a child. Now a professional artist with more than 60,000 hours of paper cutting experience, she can dedicate months to perfecting a single project. She has made grand sculptures and even wearable pieces out of paper.

With the technological advances of recent decades, the future of craftsmanship is often questioned. Will technology replace craftspeople? Can we maintain tradition in the age of technology?

Fortunately, there are still those that preserve craftsmanship by integrating takumi and technology. One of these is Lexus, where every vehicle is a result of machine accuracy and human inventiveness. Lexus’ takumi hone their skills for at least 60,000 hours, and impart a uniquely human touch to each car. Just as a traditional takumi is known for their razor-sharp senses and attention to detail, Lexus’ own master craftspeople inspect every single panel and stitch to ensure a high-quality finish. They can listen to an engine and determine whether it’s running perfectly, detect minute defects in a car’s bodywork through touch alone, and even find the smallest flaws in paintwork through sight.

The new Lexus IS sports sedan embodies the carmaker’s takumi spirit. Designed at the Shimoyama Technical Center Test Track, itself based on the infamously treacherous driving terrain of the Nürbrgring Nordschleife, the new Lexus IS is a finely tuned machine that can navigate even the most difficult of areas without sacrificing the comfort and control of those inside. Its interiors are also crafted with the driver in mind, centered on the human aspects of the drive.

The carmaker’s master craftspeople have designed the Lexus IS to seamlessly shift from slowing down to accelerating, cruising to turning, all according to what the driver wants and needs in nearly every possible driving condition and scenario. This is what the company refers to as the “Lexus Driving Experience,” which will be part of all car developments by the company moving forward. By fine-tuning the car under some of the most demanding driving environments, Lexus’ takumi masters have developed a car that pushes the boundaries of their craft.

The Lexus IS also has state-of-the-art safety features under the new Lexus Safety Sense+ 2.0. These features include Automatic High Beam, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and even a Pre-Collision system that detects oncoming vehicles and pedestrians even while turning.

The Lexus IS's Hybrid variant comes with a 2.5 inline four-cylinder hybrid power plant and LEXUS E-CVT intelligent transmission, while the F-sport variant features a 3.5L V6 24-Valve DOHC engine with Dual VVT-iW (intake) and VVT-i (exhaust) in 8-speed automatic transmission.

If you’re looking for a car that’s made with passion by the masters, visit Lexus’ official website and Facebook page for more information and updates on the Lexus IS. To learn more about Lexus’ commitment to excellence and craftsmanship, visit the Lexus Takumi Experience website.

This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Lexus.
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