職人 Shokunin and the art of specializing
Updated: Feb 27
The Mastery of ones profession
“The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” -Tasio Odate
Being conscious of the concept of Shokunin I find is an excellent way to approach work.
If you are a painter, cleaner, teacher or designer, approaching work with an attitude
of giving value to the process and the people associated is a valiant motivation that leads to quality experiences in all aspects of work.
After living in Japan for 13 years, I became used to watching people from all walks of life have an appreciation of detail, concentrating on mastering and enjoying each moment of process.
Success in any pursuit takes talent but in Western culture the idea of closing the gap though complete mastery of technique and hours upon hours of practice isn't as main stream. We laud people born with the magic touch but a lot can be said for gradual improvement, long term success and integrity.
Having a Shokunin ideal or philosophy is becoming more important year by year. As more businesses move online finding your niche and becoming a specialist of it is crucial in gathering an audience and standing out from the crowd. Traditional Japanese Shokunin ideals could be a blue print for the way forward in an online marketplace.
Bringing more meaning to your process, content and online presence.