My message for lovers

The lotus blossom, wind, and light. Nature—the essence of HASUNA’s philosophy—and thoughts on life and death. We listened to Natsuko Shiraki’s thoughts that gracefully permeate her business as well as the message she has for couples.

《 The lotus blossom 》

I created the HASUNA brand name for my jewelry based on a reading of the Japanese character for lotus blossom, “hasu.” The lotus is a stunning flower, one that I have loved for many years. It is admired as a precious flower in many Asian countries such as India and Vietnam, where I once lived, and in Cambodia, which I have visited. It is revered. The lotus is depicted in religious artwork and in many world religions, forming the pedestal supporting the gods, most notably in the worlds of Buddhism and Hinduism. I delved into the significance of the lotus and, as I suspected, it is really sacred. For example, in many places around Asia it is said to symbolize a clean, beautiful power, or alternatively to be a symbol of purification. While one of the reasons for this association is the beauty of the flower itself, the most frequently given reason is that the lotus blossoms in the mud. The image of it springing forth from the mud to rise up toward heaven, as if the mud is being purified by this perfect flower as it pushes its blossom skyward—this is why the lotus is said to be the symbol of a clean, beautiful power. When I learned that, I was inspired to make beautiful jewelry. To me beautiful jewelry is, perhaps, jewelry that can somehow help to resolve—or somehow “purify”—world problems such as poverty, while also making people beautiful. This is why I’ve combined the lotus blossom with jewelry in making HASUNA my brand name and the theme of my works.

《 Water 》

I’ve been highly conscious of water ever since I would accompany my father on his fishing trips when I was a little girl. I have vivid memories of sitting by the river all day, watching the clear water where it ran deep. It wasn’t fun; in fact it was almost scary. I’d climb up on moss-covered boulders and listen to the sounds of the rapids that I imagined the fish loved, and imagine what creatures must live there, where the water was deep. I wondered if I wouldn’t someday melt into the river, where the fish and snakes would devour me and I would never been seen again.

Even then, I couldn’t take my eyes away. Perhaps I was entranced by the beauty of the reflected sunlight, the water so transparent that it was nearly invisible, and the pale green of the mossy submerged rocks. All life is born from water, including the line of ancestors who came before me. I believe we are unconsciously torn between a desire to return to our home in the water and a fear of such regression. At least, that’s what water is to me.
《 Wind 》

The life of the natural world, the multitude of creatures there, all living things, and natural phenomena: ever since I was little I was really interested in those kinds of things. I was incredibly taken with that world. The things that were in the water, that were in the trees, that are in nature. Light. Ever since I was little, I have thought that each and every aspect of this diversity was precious.

I am frequently out and surrounded by nature, and when there I use all five of my senses. I don’t even do anything, but I am still using my senses and am aware of my perceptions completely. When the wind blows, it just strikes me that, “Ah, that feels good.” I think this is an important feeling. I can’t see the wind; it’s something that I can only sense with my body. I think about from where it might be blowing. “If it’s warm, maybe it’s coming from the south.” “If it’s cool, maybe it’s from the north.” Even if you can’t see it with your eyes, it’s something you can sense with your body. That, I think, might be a pure sense, one that’s important for us human beings.

For example, the people of Bhutan place great store in the wind. This is because many are ardent Buddhists, who have a custom of raising or hanging flags on which Buddhist sutras have been written along windblown streets. They say that when the flags flap in the wind, it is the same as chanting the nenbutsu—the short prayers—inscribed on the flags, bringing blessings to all.

This custom is a manifestation of how even something invisible like the wind is accorded respect and held in high regard. Usually when I’m living in the city, I’m largely unaware of the wind’s direction, except during storms. I think that in the past, people could tell from the wind if the weather was changing and had the same sensitivity to a variety of other phenomena. That’s why I think it is crucial, from time to time, to get out into nature and feel things like the wind that you cannot see.

《 Light 》

Light is also something that is truly amazing. It strikes some other object or substance, and we can see that with our eyes. For example, I have made jewelry that takes light as its theme. Imagine when you go out among the trees or into the woods and the light hits the leaves. Rays of sunshine poke through the branches and pour down upon the ground. Those rays of sunshine filtered through the trees are something you can only see because of the trees. Normally, you wouldn’t be able to see them.

My jewelry was designed to symbolize that light, the light that leaks through the trees, dissolves into streaks, and sparkles brightly. That light might make you think that even though it’s not something you can see per se, you can see its effects when it strikes another object. In a way, this light almost symbolizes the way in which we live. We humans naturally understand ourselves for the first time when another human is present. It’s hard for us to see exactly what sort of figure we present, but we gradually get a sense of it from having other people around us. I feel and think about light in the same way.
《 Thoughts on life and death 》

The threshold between life and death. Naturally, when you live in Japan you’ll experience friends’ or relatives’ deaths, but for me, I’ve never experienced losing someone every single day. It doesn’t get that bad. Deaths from accident or old age—those are the most common deaths here in Japan. But when you go to a place like Rwanda, almost everyone has had the experience of their family or their relatives having been murdered. There were the massacres in 1994, so of course tremendous numbers of people were killed there. Moreover, these victims were killed by people who lived nearby. You really get a sense of what an extremely complicated environment these people live in. People say that the line between life and death is a very thin one, and when you go through an experience like that you really realize just how close at hand death is.

This experience of knowing how close at hand death is to human beings at the same time makes you aware of how incredibly precious it is to be alive. And I thought that since I’m alive, I naturally ought to be doing something. This matter of being alive or of being kept alive—I really got the feeling through my experiences in India that I need to use this life that I have been given, that I need to have a mission, and that I should give something back to the world.

This truly is my personal opinion, but if you take a look at the world you can see any number of issues, accidents, or terrible events. Through my work, too, I’m trying to eliminate child labor and environmental destruction, so I’m running my business with the goal of doing something about these issues. But, the upside to this is that I really get a sense, as I lead my life, that the world is filled with love. I can clearly sense it through my work as well. It’s the love I feel within my family, the love I feel among my friends, and the love for people even farther away, for example, my HASUNA business partners in Pakistan or the children in Rwanda.

Even in faraway areas on the frontier, you can see the sight of families overflowing with love. All kinds of places are truly filled with love, and I want to convey this to children. I would like for all couples with children to do that for them. I hope as parents they will show their children a world that is filled with love, and I think that creating such a home for them is the first step. Every day the news is filled with stories about negative or terrible events, but the world is not all like that. What I want to do more and more of is show everyone that the world really is a beautiful place, filled with love.
Natsuko Shiraki
Hasuna Co., Ltd., CEO and Chief Designer.
Born 1981 in Kagoshima Prefecture, raised in Aichi Prefecture.
Attended Kings College, University of London, in 2002, to study development in lesser developed countries.
Interned after graduation at the United Nations Fund for Population Activities office in Hanoi, Vietnam, and at the Asian Development Bank Institute.
Worked for a private equity fund before founding Hasuna Co., Ltd., in April 2009.
Engaged in the business of ethical jewelry that aims to give consideration to people, society, and the natural environment.

Received Nikkei Woman magazine’s Woman of the Year 2011 award, Career Creation Division.
2011, selected as one of Japan’s 30 young leaders (Global Shapers Community 2011) by the World Economic Forum (Davos Conference).
2011, selected by AERA magazine as one of “100 people who will get Japan back on its feet.”
2012, Japan’s representative to the “Women and the Economy Forum” held as part of the APEC Russia 2012 gathering.
2013, attended World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.