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Outstanding skilled workers

What is an Outstanding Skilled Worker?

An Outstanding Skilled Worker is an individual of distinguished technical skill who is considered to be and has been commended by the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare as a leader in his or her field. Since its establishment in 1967, this commendation has contributed to the enhancement of the social status of the skilled technician and to the raising of technical standards. Indeed, this commendation has come to serve as a goal for which to strive, offering dreams and hope to those who already work in the technical world and to the young people who aspire to it.

There are two recipients of the Outstanding Skilled Worker commendation currently registered as members of the Miyazaki Certified Skilled Workers Association.

  • Kokichi Maeda
  • Etsuko Mukae

Outstanding Skilled Worker Kokichi Maeda – Renderings of Scenes from Japanese Mythology

Outstanding Skilled Worker (Landscape Gardening)

Kokichi Maeda
  • Vice Chair, Certified Skilled Workers Association
  • Chair, Skilled Workers of the Miyazaki Landacape Gardening Industry
Kokichi Maeda

Kokichi Maeda. Born in 1943 in Miyazaki Prefecture, Mr. Maeda left Miyazaki in 1963 to study the essence of the Japanese garden at a famous Osaka-based company. After about 6 years of training, he returned to Miyazaki, establishing his own company in 1969. Endowed with a natural talent, he instantly distinguished himself.


In 1968, the year that National Trade Skill Test in landscape gardening were first offered nationally, Mr. Maeda not only qualified for certification as a First Grade Landscape Gardening Technician, but was also concurrently presented the Technical Skill Competition Governor’s Award for distinguished performance on the test. This achievement was the first in a succession of numerous other awards, culminating in his commendation and decoration in the spring of 2003.
Two years later, Mr. Maeda was commended as an “Outstanding Skilled Worker”, reaching the pinnacle of success in name and reality as both craftsman and business owner. Mr. Maeda is indeed one of the leading representatives of the landscape gardening culture of Japan.


Miyazaki Shrine. Centrally situated on a vast estate in the City of Miyazaki in Miyazaki Prefecture, this solemnly elegant shrine of ancient and honorable origin was constructed in honor of Emperor Jinmu, its main enshrined deity and father of the Imperial Family.
According to legend, Miyazaki Shrine was built approximately 2500 years ago as part of a religious ceremony held by Takeiwatatsu-no-mikoto, the grandson of Emperor Jinmu, in honor of his grandfather.
It is also said that Emperor Jinmu was born at what is now known as Miyazaki-ken, Nishimorokata-gun, Takaharu-cho, Oaza Sano, residing until he departed for parts eastward at the age of 45 in the imperial palace at the time (an associated shrine) thought to have been located relatively close to Miyazaki Shrine, lending greater credence to the positioning of Miyazaki Shrine as one of the most important roots of Japanese Mythology.

”The Himuka Garden”

Coincidentally, this year is an important milestone in the history of Japan, as it marks the 1300-year anniversary of the Kojiki.
Kokichi Maeda handles the pruning and management of the wisteria trellises of Miyazaki Shrine. Employing Miyazaki-born traditions of the trade, he creates a grandeur and profundity of depth that can be passed on to future generations.


(Left: Kokichi Maeda; Right: Shusei Sugita, Chief Priest of Miyazaki Shrine)


(“The Shrine of Miyazaki” by Sadahito Hirasawa, Miyazaki Shrine Collection)

The Himuka Garden proposed by outstanding skilled worker, Kokichi Maeda, uses to the greatest extent possible blue stone from Shiiba and an abundance of other items produced in Miyazaki Prefecture, the preeminent treasure trove of domestic gardening materials, to reconstruct in your garden scenes depicting the places in Miyazaki – the home of mythology, the birthplace of Japan – that are associated with Emperor Jinmu.

Take, for example, the scenery depicting the majestic mountains and exceedingly clean waters of the lakes of Takaharu, the birthplace of Emperor Jinmu. One can easily envision the imperial palace that once ruled Miyazaki, the sprawling golden fields of grain swaying in the autumnal breeze. And then, of course, there are the pure rivers and majestic ocean views stretching from Mimitsu in Hyuga, the place from which Emperor Jinmu embarked on his journey east. Mr. Maeda consults with his clients to choose from these and a variety of other legendary locations, painstakingly selecting the perfect materials he will personally use in his scenic recreations.
You will no doubt marvel at the sight of Mr. Maeda using to the utmost limits outstanding skills and exceptional sensibilities befitting the title of “Outstanding Skilled Worker” to create the perfect garden right before your eyes.


From ages past, the Japanese have always attempted to utilize the natural environment even as they try to harmonize with it, seeking in their gardens a peace of mind.
Within Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, exists a place crowned with the name “Himuka” – the Land that Faces the Sun. Known today as Hyuga, this land is proud to claim as its own this creator of nature, Kokichi Maeda, who at the height of his technical skill creates scenes of the endlessly abounding natural splendor of Miyazaki with an aesthetic sense and sensibility to colors and an eye for the picturesque that could never be calculated.

From Miyazaki to the World, For Japan.

(Photographs courtesy of Miyazaki Shrine.)

Dressing in Elegance and Sophistication - The Finest Form of Romance

Outstanding Skilled Worker (Ladies Dress making)

Etsuko Mukae
  • Vice Chair, Miyazaki Certified Skilled Workers Association.
  • Honorary president, Skilled Workers of the Miyazaki Ladie’s Dressmaking Industry
  • Director of All Japan dressmaking technical association and branch chief of Miyazaki chapter
Etsuko Mukae

When a woman puts on a dress, she is freed from reality, transported into the world of gorgeous fairy tales, exalting in the wonderful time to be had there. Etsuko Mukae, the Miyazaki-based professional whose fame continues to rise, creates dresses that dramatize the beauty of such women.

A “Certified Skilled Worker” in her own right, in 2005 Ms. Mukae was commended by the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare as a ‘Outstanding Skilled Worker’, an honor for which she was later decorated in 2009. Ms. Mukae has a brilliant history of awards, including the unprecedented two-time conferral of the Prime Minister’s Award upon her in 2000 and 2004.

Ms. Mukae’s works are always locally-oriented, boasting abundantly original design and an exceptional technical skill that transforms her designs into reality. Her productions are highly acclaimed both domestically and internationally, and the finely detailed work that goes into creating perfect silhouettes using patterns and draping, or adding drapes and embroidery to difficult-to-sew material such as velvet and chiffon is considered to be the finest in Japan.

Of particular note among her numerous works is the second Prime Minister’s Award-winning wedding dress that employed a total of 60,000 traditional Japanese pearl-shaped beads to render the image of a Casablanca flower, the queen of all lilies. Moreover, scallops representing the oceans of Miyazaki were fashioned on the collar and sleeves of the dress, enchanting all who gazed upon them with their poignant beauty. Ms. Mukae brought this dress with her when she traveled to Europe as a member of the delegation of a Yokohama and Lyon cultural exchange organization, exhibiting it in a fashion shows held in Lyon in France in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Yokohama municipal administration.

A dynamic individual whose activities span the globe as she participates in events such as fashion shows in both Taipei, Taiwan in 2006 and Bali, Indonesia in 2008, Ms. Mukae is reminiscent of a magician freely manipulating fabric, her personal magic carpet.


Ms. Mukae began dressmaking at the age of 26, and while her learning environment was by no means privileged, she made time for developing creative and original ideas while she worked, acquiring her technical skills virtually on her own. Expressing her gratitude for the people who have supported her, Ms. Mukae had this to say about her journey thus far.
“Compared to those who have had the opportunity to attend dressmaking schools, I have probably taken a lot of circuitous paths to get to where I am today, and have sometimes envied others for their good fortune. But when I began to accept the fact that this was my destined path, in time I came to feel grateful for having been given the chance to experience so much. I never want to be second best to anyone in the pursuit of the thing that I love doing, so I devote myself completely to every one of my projects. When feeling, the fabric and skill come together as one, my work responds to me.”

“I think mission from here on is to appreciate the people who have thus far been there for me wherever I go, as I find ways to impart to those I am fortunate enough to encounter the wonder of dressmaking, and in the process, cultivate heirs to this art.”

It is said that, contrary to its elegant figure, a swan in the water is constantly paddling. The basis of the state of beauty woven by Etsuko Mukae is defined not only by her exceptional sense and technique, but also by her uncompromising sense of professionalism.