All posts by Paula

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of graduate life. She studies medieval Japanese history.

おなべごんすけ (Onabegonsuke)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

おなべごんすけ (onabegonsuke)
Onabegonsuke

=====================

This top features Onabegonsuke. According to Hiroi-sensei, Onabegonsuke is the lowest-ranking god of luck.

***

***

Hiroi Michiaki: And this is Onabegonsuke. Onabegonsuke is… umm, he’s the lowest-ranking god of luck. And if you spin this, his neck bobs up and down at this part. Heh heh heh. That [part is] a kitchen, a cooking stove.

おなべごんすけ

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

タイトル:

おなべごんすけ (onabegonsuke)
Onabegonsuke

=====================

おなべごんすけがテーマの独楽である。廣井先生によると、おなべごんすけは位の一番低い幸運の神である。

***

***

廣井道顕:で、これはおなべごんすけだな。おなべごんすけってあのう、一番位の低い福の神なんです。でこれ回すとね、ここのところからこの首を出したり引っ込めたりして。へへへ。あの台所ですね、かまど。

Hiroi and the Life of the Artisan

In this interview segment, Hiroi-sensei describes the life of a woodworking artisan and the difficulty of maintaining Japanese traditional arts in the modern world.

 ===

===========================================

Paula Curtis: What are some of the biggest difficulties you have encountered working as an artisan?

Hiroi Michiaki: The most difficult thing… it’s nothing but difficult things, right? (laughs) There’s nothing that’s easy. Saying which one is most difficult– it’s all difficult. On the other hand, the thing that makes me most happy is when people who buy my tops enjoy them. If they go “Woooow!” I’m so happy. Other than that, every day I’m suffering. (grins)

Paula: (laughs) Those, well, difficult things, of course you said there are a lot of them, but did they change a lot over time? What was difficult–doing business? Selling them?

Hiroi: Well, the difficulty of being an artisan, the more you do it the more difficult it becomes. Other than that, selling them, I’m bad at selling them. So, yeah, I’m always at a loss.

Paula: Do you feel that artisanal professions are in danger of dying out? Why do you think that is?

Hiroi: Ah! Yes. This is the thing that troubles me most. Umm… why it is that Japan takes artisans for granted. If there are no artisans, I don’t think that they can even established Japan’s large businesses, but for some reason artisans are looked down upon and taken for granted. Umm…  people in administration also think little of artisans and don’t support us. I’m not saying we want [more] support, but I think we want them to value us more.

But Japan right now is developing only this one [type of] skill, and maybe the bottom, you’d call it, artisans are definitely at the very bottom [of those priorities]. Artisans make things [to be used], and at this time [those things] are made in great quantities, so large companies are established. And if those artisans gradually disappear, someone will say “Let’s [make] this thing,” and they probably won’t be able to. So there are a lot of artisans of different occupations, but in any case I want those people who are artisans to be valued more. That’s my wish.

Paula: Do you have a lot of apprentices compared to the past?

Hiroi: Ahh, yeah. So, um, this is, well, as for why apprentices increased, it’s because I was doing traditional kokeshi, umm… and there were a number of people doing kokeshi. So there were a lot of people who gathered to do that. And I was painting kokeshi, and selling them, selling them to collectors, and people were saying difficult things to me like “that’s wrong,” “this is wrong,” and I was very troubled, but I did my best at it, and became able to [make them] to a certain extent.

My name was published in kokeshi books, too. And at that time, I realized, “Ahh, in my home there was something even more precious than kokeshi.” There were a lot of kokeshi makers, and they would definitely survive [in the future], but the Edo tops of my family, there was only one house [that made those] in all of Japan. All of the world. The ones who inherited that were only me and my younger brother. Kokeshi [makers] weren’t like us, who were only one family, there were had hundreds, thousands. I realized that it would be impossible to revive it and leave it behind [after we died]. So I thought to myself that I had to increase our apprentices. And young heirs to kokeshi maker families… they came to me, and those young people said “Can’t we make a living not just doing the kokeshi from before?” and “I want you to teach me other things.”

At that time, there was another person here like Maeda-kun whom I was teaching. He was the son of a kokeshi maker, someone from Obara Onsen, he was someone famous, and this was his child. He was named Yūsuke, Honda Yūsuke. That was in Shiroishi, and the young sons of the kokeshi makers of the Yajirō [style] lineage came together and I had seven [apprentices]. And since Yūsuke said “I’m learning [Edo top making] right now at this place,” everyone else said they wanted to, too. And so they [all] came saying, “Will you teach us?” It was like asking if it’s true and going “It’s true!” And he was saying “Come with me everyone!” Those seven came to Shiroishi and I ended up teaching them.

Well then, my goods are different from kokeshi, and there’s a lot of different kinds, and you have to want to enjoy yourself, so first it was like “If you come to my home, it’s not work, it’s more like fun.” And everyone was like “Whaaat!” and was really surprised. Heh heh heh. One person really took that seriously and messed around and found a girlfriend and got married. Haha.

Now, for kokeshi, the Yajirō line is the best one, but he couldn’t really make tops well. He’d been learning for almost half a year but couldn’t make them. And kokeshi, well, his parents were kokeshi makers, so, first, first it was best for him to do kokeshi [instead of tops]. So he put all his efforts into kokeshi. And everyone else was doing tops. And of course I wondered if their parents were angry, if they were complaining. I thought, “I’m teaching their precious heirs unnecessary things!” Surely they must have been mad. But their parents all came and said “Please take care of them,” and bowed their heads to me. All seven. Contrary to it all, I was the surprised one. “Ahh this is serious,” I thought, and put my all into teaching them. I think usually one person can remember about a hundred types [of tops].

Paula: Umm, about these artisanal occupations disappearing, what do you think should be done about that? So that they become more popular?

Hiroi: Ahh. Yeah.

Paula: Do you think there’s anything that can be done?

Hiroi: I think it would be really good if they were popular. It’s regrettable that in Japan there’s not a system for that. Like I said before, if important people would take note of us artisans, wouldn’t a bit more traditional things and skills survive? And young people becoming artisans–you know there’s quite a lot of young people who want to become artisans But the world of artisans is difficult. And artisans are quite stubborn. And people are scared of that popular image, that they can’t get used to that [sort of life]. Heh heh heh. there are quite a lot of people who say “I really want to do that…” So I thought [it would be good if] it was easier for those people to become accustomed to it. I thought [to myself] “I want to teach them.” Umm… last year, a year and a half ago, in Sendai, our Craft Village, we wanted to do successor training, so the city gave us money. And five young people came.

And, ah– the city gave us wages. And we got quite a bit of money as an honorarium, too. It went on for a year and a half and it ended in March of this year. In the end those who stayed on were one person with Kotake-san, and Maeda-kun here with me, and another person, Misa-chan, a girl. Three of them were left. I think that if something like that [program] went on a little longer we’d have more young people come. And if they did it without such strict conditions. This time around, the conditions weren’t so tough, and that was good. Five people came and three stayed. I think that’s a huge success.

And doing something like that again, not just with the city, but with the prefecture, the country, if they did that, I think the number of young successors really go up. And, well, among the same artisans, places with money, they can steadily support young people themselves. Places like mine that don’t have any money, because of that people like Maeda-kun are doing part-time jobs but also want to learn, so they come [to us]. I think people like that can become the real thing. So I think that if [the government] extended its hand more to places like that, more young people could be trained, and I feel like Japan, too, would be a richer place for it.

廣井先生と職人としての生き方

廣井先生が木工職人の生活と現代社会で日本の伝統工芸や芸術を伝え守っていくことの難しさを語っている。

===

===========================================

ポーラ・カーティス:あのう、そしてまぁ職人としての生活にはあのう、一番難しいことが何だと思いますでしょうか。

廣井道顕:一番難しいこと・・・難しいことばっかりだな。(laughs)簡単なのっつうのはないですね。どれが一番難しいって言われると、全部難しいね。一番、逆に嬉しいのが、お客さんとか、買ってもらった人が喜んでくれる。ワァァってやってくれっと、ものすごく嬉しい。後は毎日苦しんでいます。(grins)

ポーラ:(laughs) その、まぁあの難しいことが、もちろん、多いと、おっしゃいましたが、まぁあの時間とともに、ま、多少変化しましたか。何が難しいか、あのその、ビジネスとか、売るのとか。

廣井:まぁ職人として難しさは、やればやるほど難しくなってくのね。あと、売る、売るのは苦手なんだよね。だからね、うん、損ばっかりしてんのね。

ポーラ:で、あの職人の、あの職業がだんだん消えつつあると思いますでしょうか。それはなぜだと思いますか。

廣井:あぁ!そう。これが一番、あのう困ったことだなと思って、あのう・・・なぜか日本は職人て言うと軽く見られるんですよね。で職人がいないと、あのう、日本の大企業だって成り立たないはずなんだけども、なぜか職人は、馬鹿にされるしね、軽く見られるし。あのう・・・行政の方でも職人は軽く見て、何の援助もしてくれないしね。援助が欲しくて言うんではないけど、もっと大事にして欲しいなと思うのね。

だって日本が今こんだけ技術が発達してんだってその底辺ていうか、一番下には職人が必ずいるんですよね。職人がモノを作って、それを今度機会で大量に作ってって。であの、大企業が成り立って。で、その職人がだんだんいなくなってくれば、あのう何か今度やろうつったって何もたぶんできなくなると思うんですよね。だから、職業は、色々職人もあるけども、もうとにかくその職人っていう人をもっと大事にしてほしいなあと。まぁ希望ですけどね。

ポーラ:ではあのう、現在は、昔と比べると、弟子が多かったですか。

廣井:あぁ、うん。だからね。あのう、これはね、なんで弟子を多くしたかというと、あのう伝統こけしをやって、うんん・・・あの、こけしやっている人も何人もいたし。だからそれを集めてる人もいっぱいいたんですけれども。で、こけし描いてて、で売って、あのう収集している人に売って、どうのこうの、あれがダメだの、これがダメだのと、難しいこと言われて、うんと悩んで、でも一生懸命やって、ある程度できるようになって。まぁ本なんかでも、

こけしの本とか必ず名前が載るようになって。でそん時にね、気が付いたんですよ。『あぁ、うちにはこけしよりもっと大事なものがあった』って。こけしはいっぱいこけし屋さんがいて、完全に残っているけど、うちの江戸独楽はうち一軒なんですよね。日本中で。ということは世界中で。それを引き継いだのは俺と弟の二人だけで。日本では、でうちの場合は、あの、こけしみたく一つだけではなくて、何百何千って数があるものですから。一人でそれを再現して残しておくっていうことが不可能だなってのが気付いて。これは弟子をいっぱい増やさなきゃならないと思って。そんであのう、こけし屋さんの、若い跡取りを・・・あのううちに来たんですよ、あのう、これから先こけしだけでは、生活していかれなくなるんでねえかっていうことで他のことも覚えたいんだって、若いのが。

あの時ね、うちであのう、一人、あのう今の前田くんみたく一人あのう、教えてやってたのがいたのね。それがあのこけし屋さんの息子で、あの小原温泉の、人なんですけど、これも有名な人なんですけど、その人の子供で。雄介、本多雄介っていう。それがあのう、白石で、あのう、弥治郎系のこけし屋さんの息子たちの、子供たちの若い人の集まり、で七人いるんだって。で、その雄介が『今自分はこういう所でこういうもの習ってんだ』っていう話をしたらば、みんなそういうの覚えたいなっていうことになったって。で『教えてくれるか』って来たから。本当かってったら『本当だ』って言うのね。で、『みんな連れて来い』っつって。でそん時七人、白石から来たんですよ。では、教えてやったっていうことになって。

でまぁ、うちの品物はこけしと違って、種類がいっぱいあるし、遊び心がいっぱいなきゃならないので、まず『うちに来るんだったら真面目になってないで遊びな』っつったの。したっけ『えええ!』なんてみんなビックリして。へへへ。で、一人、本気になって遊んで、彼女見つけて結婚して。へへ。

今、こけしでは弥治郎で一番ぐらいになってるね。でそいつ、こ、独楽できなかったのね。まだあのう習い始めて半年だかって言うんで、ほとんど独楽できなくて。ほんで、こけし、ま親がこけし屋さんだから、で、まず、でまずこけしやったらいいでねえかっつうことで。で、こけし一生懸命やって。他の人たちはみんな独楽やって。したらみんな親たちにてっきり『怒られるかな、文句言われっかなあ』と思って『大事な、跡取り息子に余計なこと教えた!』なんて怒られるんじゃないかと思ってたら、みんな親たちが来て「宜しくお願いします」ってここでね、みんな頭ついてったね。七人とも。これには、逆にこっちの方でビックリしちゃって。『あぁこれ本気なんだな』と思って、ほんで一生懸命教えてやって。で、大体一人でもう百種類ぐらいは覚えたんのじゃないのかなと思うんですけどね。

ポーラ:あのう、まぁこの職人の職業がその、あのう消えつつある問題についてですが、どうすればいいと思いますでしょうか。あのう、そのまあ、人気があるように。

廣井:あぁ。そうね。

ポーラ:何かできますか。

廣井: そういうのがあると本当いいんですけどねえ。残念なことに日本にはまだそういう制度ないし。もうちょっと、偉い人がさっきも言ったように職人に、えぇ、こう、目を向けてくれれば、少しは、伝統的なものとか、技術が、残るんじゃないかな。で、若い人も、職人に、結構職人になりたい若い人いるんですよね。でも、職人の世界って難しい。で職人っていうのは頑固でなかなか。こう、馴染めないっていう、そっちのイメージの方が多くて恐ろしがってね、へへへ。なかなか『やりたくてもなぁ・・・』っていう人結構多いんですよね。だから、そういう人たちにね、もっとこう、スムーズに馴染んでもらって。育てたいな、と思っていたんですけど。ええと、去年ね、ええと一年半、仙台市で、この工芸の里で、後継者の育成をしようっていうことで市の、市がお金を出してくれて。で五人、入れたんですね若い人を。

で、あー、市で給料を出してくれて。ほんで教える方も、謝礼金として結構なお金、もらったんですけど。一年半続けて、で今年の三月でそれ終了したんですけど。んで結果的に残ったのが、うんと、小竹さんのとこに一人、うちに前田くんいるし、もう一人あのう、みさちゃんって女の子がいるんですけど。三人残ったんですけど。で、そういうことをもう少し続けてやってくれれば、もっと若い人が来ると思うんですけどね。で、あまりこう難しい条件、つけないでやってくれって言うんですけど。で今回はね、そんな難しい条件でなくても良かったし。で五人来て、ま結果三人残ることになったんですけど。大成功でないかなと思うんですけどね。

でこういうことを、こう繰り返し、市ばかりでなくてね、県とか国で、やってくれれば、若い後継者が日本中で結構増えると思うんですけどね。でまあ、同じ職人でもほら、うんとお金のある、所はね、自分の所でどんどん若手を育てることできるけど。我々みたいにお金のないのはね、それこそ前田くんでもみたくアルバイトをしながら、でも習いたいっつうんで来てた。そういう人たちあの、ホンモノになれると思うんですよね。だから、そういうところにね、もうちょっとこう、手を差し出てくれれば、もっと若手育てられて、日本も、もうちょっと豊かになれるような気がするんですけどね。

河童の水汲み (kappa no mizukumi)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

河童の水汲み (kappa no mizukumi)
kappa drawing water

=====================

This top depicts a kappa. Kappa are yōkai (supernatural creatures) from traditional Japanese folklore. Kappa are typically depicted as somewhat humanoid and the size of a child, although sometimes they can appear more like birds or turtles. They are said to live in rivers and ponds, where they cause mischief, occasionally kidnapping or drowning people or animals. Sometimes they are depicted as balancing a bowl or plate of water on their heads, which is a technique they use to travel outside of their watery homes. Even today, some areas of Japan will have signs near rivers warning people about kappa. Kappa may also be considered friendly or helpful, helping humans with water-related tasks like irrigation or fishing. Each part of this figure can be removed and turns into a separate top. This top features kappa drawing water out into gourds.

***

***

Hiroi Michiaki:  This is… What is this? Kappa drawing water? The kappa are drawing water out into gourds. When you spin this, it totters around like this. They look like they’re playing.

河童の水汲み

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

タイトル:

河童の水汲み (kappa no mizukumi)
kappa drawing water

=====================

河童とがテーマの独楽。河童は日本の伝統的な民間伝承に出てくる妖怪(日本の化け物、非科学的な存在)である。河童は人間のような姿をしており、大きさは子どもと同じ程度、しかし時に鳥や亀のような姿をしていることもある。川や池に住んでいると言われ、そこでいたずらをしたり、時には人や動物をさらったり溺れさせたりもする。頭に水の入った器や皿をのせている姿で描かれるが、河童が水中から外の世界に出ることができるのはこの皿や器があるからである。今日でさえ、河童についての注意書きが川の近くに立てられていることがある。河童は友好的、頼る存在として考えられることもある。かんがいや魚釣りなど水に関係することに関して人間の手助けをする。パーツを取り外すと、それぞれが独楽になり回すことができる。ひょうたんで水を汲む河童の姿が表現されている。

***

***

廣井道顕:これがこれが何だ。河童の水汲みか。河童がこの瓢箪に水を汲んでるところ。これ回すとやっぱりこう、ふらふら動いてね。なんか遊んでるように見える。

奴道中 (attendant on the road)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

奴道中 (yakko dōchū)
attendant on the road

=====================

This top depicts a samurai attendant. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), daimyō (military lords) were required to travel to the capital of Edo (modern day Tokyo) on alternating years to reside there. Travel across the country took place in long processions of the daimyō and their retainers and servants. These processions were a point of pride for each individual province and local ruler, and could include as many as several thousand men. At the forefront of these processions were bannermen, who carried spears or flags, and called out for commoners to clear a path for the daimyō’s party to move through the road. Here, Hiroi-sensei has made a top of one of these bannermen.  

***

***

Hiroi Michiaki: And this is a samurai attendant. In the past, there were daimyō (military lord) processions; there was a practice called sankin kōtai [in which daimyō travelled on alternating years to do a year-long residence in Edo [Tokyo]]. For example the processions even went all the way from Sendai to Edo. And after some years they’d turn around and come back. At that time, the person in the very front of the line, the attendant, carried a spear, and while calling out something out loud he’d walk like this. [This top] shows this. The attendant on the road. At the very front of the daimyō procession.

奴道中

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

タイトル:

奴道中 (yakko dōchū)
attendant on the road

=====================

奴さんの独楽。江戸時代(1600-1868年)、大名は参勤交代のために江戸(現在の東京)に住むことが義務付けられていたので、江戸まで旅をしなければならなかった。家臣や家来を引き連れて大名行列をなし国々をまたいで旅をした。それぞれの国や地主の誇りに関わる大事だったので、数千人を動員することもあった。大名行列の先頭には旗や槍を持つ旗持ちがおり、大名のために道を開けるように庶民に掛け声をかける。廣井先生はこの旗持ちを独楽で作った。

***

***

廣井道顕:で、これはやっこさん。で昔あの、大名行列ってあの、参勤交代でみな江戸に、ま例えば仙台入るのもね、江戸まで。何年かにいっぺん行ってて。その時にはあの、行列の一番先頭でやっこさんがこう槍持って来て、なんか声かけながら、こうやって歩く。それを表してるんですけど。やっこ道中。大名行列の一番前ですね