Case study

Headjam collaborated with Taiyo Namba, owner of Newcastle's best Japanese eateries Nagisa and Susuru, Taiyo new buisness venture the Spirit of Japan is where people in the food and beverage industry can buy imported hand-crafted Japanese products such as hand-made knives.

Headjam principal Luke Kellett travelled to Japan with Taio to photograph the production process. As each part of the knife is crafted by an individual master craftsman, the production is a collaboration between individual masters until the knife is complete, the whole process can take days to from start to finish.

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Taiyo Namba is a long-time, important client of Headjam’s, who owns and operates the incredible Japanese restaurant Nagisa in Honeysuckle. Nagisa was a past project with Headjam having created the branding and website.

Taiyo is also an entrepreneur and is constantly looking at ways to generate additional revenue and provide his audiences with what they love; authentic Japanese food, alcohol and memorable experiences.

Taiyo came back to Headjam in 2016 to ask for our collaboration in re-designing and re-developing the website for his new business venture, Spirit of Japan. Spirit of Japan is where people can buy imported hand-crafted Japanese products such as hand-made knives, incredible whisky, black stone plates, glasses and crockery.

Spirit of Japan’s products are handcrafted artisan products. They all originate from Japan and also relate to the food and beverage industry in some way.

In 2017 Headjam’s Principal Luke travelled to Japan to photograph the artisans producing the products with Taiyo as well as documenting their travels.


To craft a series of images that tell the story of how the products are produced.

Target Audience

The audience for 'Spirit of Japan' cannot be defined by a demographic. It is a psychographic of those that believe in purchasing hand crafted products. Audiences that may purchase the products include professional chefs, amateur cooks, family members for gifts or restaurants.

Consumer Proposition

The essence of Japan

Desired Consumer Response

‘These are a once in a lifetime purchase that I will always treasure’.

Creative Solution

The images were photographed on medium format digital camera back with the Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID body. This process is slow and methodical and brings the process back to the analogue workflow, where you connect with the subject in a dynamic way. The subjects were incredible to photograph, and their workshops held so much detail and history that it was really quite hard to take a bad portrait of them.

Each part of the knife is crafted by an individual master craftsman, meaning that not one person is responsible for everything. This means that the specialty and skill involved in each process is incredibly detailed. The collaboration between each party is awesome to see as each stage is couriered to the next workshop until the individual knife is complete, this process can sometimes take days to go from start to finish.


All in all we photographed three portraits of the different stages of production, as well as documenting the process over three days in Japan. When we got back to Australia we also photographed the knives in a studio environment, so seeing the knives go from a single piece of metal to a polished final product was an incredible process to be a part of.

2019 will see the launch of the website and marketing campaign we can’t wait to show you the rest of the project.

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