[From Novemberber Issue 2014]
These days, more and more women are taking up DIY as a hobby. DIY is an abbreviation of “Do it yourself”, but is often translated into Japanese as weekend carpentry. Compulsory “technology/home economics” classes in junior high school were once taught separately according to gender; with boys learning “technology” which included woodwork and engineering, and girls learning “home economics,” which included cooking and sewing. People therefore have an image of weekend carpentry as being a male hobby.
Tools used for DIY are quite different from those in the past. Home centers have lots of safe and convenient tools such as compact saws and lightweight electric screwdrivers. They have become such familiar objects that even 100-yen shops have DIY sections. Tools made especially for women are on the market, including pastel-colored tool boxes and hammers with flower patterns on the handle.
The “DIY Joshi-bu®” is a social circle for women actively involved in DIY. Since its foundation in March 2011, the number of members has been increasing every year and they now have over 1,800 people registered. Besides its Tokyo headquarters, there are three workshops in Japan and one overseas – these have become places for DIY-loving women to communicate. Lectures are given there on such topics such as how to make things and how to use tools.
Vice President MUTA Yukiko says, “The appeal of DIY lies in the fact that you can create a finished product with a size and appearance that suits your own tastes. Since women almost invariably add some cute touch to the basic form, their personality will show in the product.”
The “DIY Joshi-bu®” has a good reputation for the quality of its work, so they sometimes get commissions from companies. “As consumers, we make products that we really want, from the point of view of businesses this allows them to target the needs of today’s era and develop products. Truly excellent products become essential to the user’s life. In the future, we’d like to help create (more) workshops and environments where anyone can enjoy DIY without traveling far. We’d like to provide social support not only for women, but also for the elderly and children so that through DIY they can get a taste for the enjoyment of creating things and gain a sense of accomplishment,” says Muta.
ISHII Akane, a housewife living in Saitama Prefecture got started with DIY when she decided to make a piece of furniture because it was too expensive to buy. She’s now reconstructing everything in her house – not only the furniture – to her taste, remaking interior doors in an antique style and changing the wallpaper to patterns of her liking.
Ishii says, “I often use books on interior design and homes in other countries as a reference. Rather than making simply functional shelves or tables, women want to find beauty in them. DIY is a way of realizing your ideals.”
Text: MUKAI Natsuko