Why and how we created DAIKUKAI
We make objects of traditional Japanese inspiration , some for Decoration, but most related to the practice of Martial Arts and Meditation.
Our goal is to help maintain the traditional touch in the Western Dojo, not only in aesthetics but also at the philosophical level. That is why some of our designs, such as nafudakake or kamidana, seek to maintain certain traditions that we believe make the Dojo a more dedicated place to Keiko.
Between the two we design and make all our products. From the cutting of rough wood, to final packaging. If you write us an email, to ask us something or just say hello, you'll always be dealing directly with one of us.
We live in Güéjar Sierra.
A town located in the Sierra Nevada, in Granada (Spain). It's a place of great natural beauty known for its good weather, great food, and many Aikido Seminars ;-)
A mini biography.
Helder is a designer and cabinetmaker.
He first studied Communication Design. After leaving the University, in search of a more tactile occupation, he had the opportunity to do a small training course in cabinetmaking. It was enough to fall in love with this trade, and only the first step in a long learning path.
In his opinion, designing with intimate knowledge of the raw material is synonymous with quality. This is how the Spanish Magazine "Nuevo Estilo" recounts it, in an article dedicated to his previous project.
His passion for Aikido inspired him to contribute to the martial community. Because Keiko is not only his passion, it is also his philosophy of life since he conceives work as a daily practice of personal growth.
Almudena does a bit of everything.
She studied Jewelry and Goldsmithing, and since then, she has always maintained a close relationship with the Arts & Crafts world. For a time, she owned an import company, with which she gained experience in online commerce and customer service.
She's taken the reins of the brand image, and for this, has become an expert in product photography, video recording and editing, SEO, Social Networks, and more...
Still, she enjoys being at the workshop the most, finishing and making the final details of each product, and returning to her artisan roots.
Why and how we created DAIKUKAI
There are many schools, nowadays throughout the western world that dedicate themselves to different Arts of Japanese origin: martial arts, meditation, or other more artistic activities. Among them they share the same philosophy, that of self-improvement and personal growth through Keiko, whose literal meaning is "to learn from the Past and make use of it to the Present".
It is a concept that perfectly describes the life of any artisan. And yet one which, in the Western world, has all but disappeared in favor of a more utilitarian kind learning ... the idea that everything we do should be clearly useful, and that without this reason, it is not worth devoting oneself to anything.
These practices of Japanese origin make it posible for anyone to become the creator and craftsman of their own lives... it is a wonderful gift, especially when you realise how so many people would otherwise never have the opportunity to be filled of the happiness of making just to make... practicing just to practice... without being frustrated by the lack of perfection but rejoicing because there is always something else to learn.
In the same way that a craftsman needs a workshop... the practitioner of a Keiko needs a place of practice, be that his home, the Zendo, the Dojo...
In Japan these places are usually completely dedicated to the practice they serve. Some are even Historic places, where you can sense something unique, which has been growing over perhaps centuries, that inspires practitioners on their way.
But we have seen that this “historical support” does not exist in the West, and many times (included in our own practice) we find spaces that are not at all inspiring of that Keiko philosophy and practice.
Which was why we thought we could help.
What to do when what we are looking for is traditional, but doesn't exist yet?
We went around this a lot... we didn't want to create something new, that said: "Look how innovative we can be"... this was about creating a traditional space, so we had to put ourselves in mind of a craftsman, from days gone past, and use the solutions that this person decided. After all, these are techniques and processes that have been developed for centuries... will they not work now?
It certainly wasn't easy. At first we often asked ourselves if using such laborious methods was really worth it. In addition, as in any new project, we did not have the sales to indicate if we were on the right track.
Then we got an email:
“I received my kamidana, assembled it, and I love it!”
“The katanakake is perfect, beautiful and simple, very traditional.”
And another... and another... always with a good amount of energy, which has been feeding us throughout these years, in these moments of doubt, and very long nights of worry.
Yes. You can create something "new" that remains traditional.
We do use machines to cut the wood, and computers to design, so one might ask: Where is the line that defines what we do? For us it's all in the final result... the object, that one can see and touch, that says: "I could have been made by a craftsman 100 years ago."
Today, we continue working on new products, now a little more certain of our own identity, and always from this point of view, that the object speaks for itself... tells its story, and that of all human beings who have left us these techniques, methods, finishes, tools, ways of thinking...
That's what it's about. It's Keiko.
We couldn't do it without the support of our clients and friends. Thank you very much, especially to those of you who, as Teachers, have decided to dedicate yourselves so that others can grow and enjoy with your Art.
Almudena & Helder