Category Archives: tops

メディア・ポスト:秋保工芸の里へ

ジャネルは日本にいる友人に会い、宮城学院でのホームカミングデーに参加するため、最後にもう一度だけ日本に行くことを決めていたが、その際ポーラとマリナも一緒に来ないかと提案してきた、廣井氏に直接インタビューし、コレクションの作品個々にまつわる話も聴くことができるから、と。数か月 資金調達に奔走し、キックスターターでのキャンペーンを成功させたポーラとマリナは、ミシガン大学日本研究センターの協力とキックスターター寄付者からの支援で2014年5月に1週間、ジャネルと共に日本の東北地方を訪れた。廣井氏の自宅がある秋保(あきう)工芸の里を訪ね、その熟練の業を目の当たりにした。2014年8月、ジャネルはフロリダ州デルレイ・ビーチへ向かい、モリカミ博物館・日本庭園へ足を運ぶ。コレクションの寄贈を受け入れてくれた博物館だった。

廣井先生のお宅と工房の写真です。それぞれの独楽のデザインを、基になった伝説や歴史の話を交えて説明し、独楽を回して見せてくれました。

Media post: Going to Akiu Craft Park

Janell, determined to travel to Japan one last time to see her many friends and attend her homecoming at Migyagi Gakuin, invited Paula and Malina to join her so that they could interview Hiroi in person and share in the Japan side of the collection’s history. After several months of funding inquiries and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Paula and Malina were able to travel with Janell for a week in May of 2014 to northern Japan with the support of the University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies and Kickstarter contributors. There they visited Hiroi at his home in Akiu kōgei no sato 秋保工芸の里 (Akiu Craft Village) and were introduced to his artisanry in person.

These photos show Hiroi-sensei’s home, store, and workshop. He demonstrated how to spin various tops. He also explained the legends and histories behind the design of each top. 

 

 

廣井先生の教え

ジャネルが廣井先生とどうして出会い、仕事をするようになったのか、廣井先生の弟子への指導の仕方から、アーティストのコミュニティの中で快く迎えてもらえた経験を語ったインタビューです。

===

マリナ:: では、廣井先生との時間について訊いていきますね。

ジャネル:: えぇ。

マリナ: それでは、廣井先生に初めて会った時のことを話していましたけど、その前に廣井先生について知っていましたか。

ジャネル: いいえ。廣井先生は東京出身で仙台に住むようになったわけだけど、私は先生のことは知らなかったの。アマノさんを通して知って、アマノさんとタカハシさんが手助けするために廣井先生を訪ねていて、二人が廣井先生を見つけたの。新年の番組でインタビューするために凧づくりの職人を探していてね。男の子は凧揚げ、女の子はバドミントンをする。とにかく、凧職人が見つからなくて、ある日本人女性が、小さくて素敵な本屋さんをやってたんだけど廣井先生の知り合いだったの。それで仙台に独楽職人がいると知ったのね。そして廣井先生を見つけたら、具合がよくないことと、生活が苦しいことが判った。だから病院に連れて行って、自分たちを弟子に取ってもらうことにしたの。収入もできて、独楽づくりを再開してもらえるようにね。その頃に、私はアマノさんの奥さんと一緒にあのテレビ番組をやっていた、アマノさんの奥さんが番組助手で日本語担当、私が英語担当でね。まぁとにかく私は、TBSで働くアマノさんとアマノさんのお友達に、番組に出てくれと頼まれたの。それから廣井先生の家に連れて行かれて。廣井先生と奥さんに会ったの、おかしな家で。お店以外に2~3個部屋があって、仕事が終わった後は座ってお茶を飲んだ。

ここにある写真にもその部屋が写っているわ。何が素晴らしいかって、先生は2つロクロを持っていて、1つは先生が仕事をしながらでも、こんな風に私たちのことが見えるところにあったこと。私たちはお互い向かい合うように座ってた。だから、ロクロを使えるようになるまで5~6年かかる陶芸のお弟子さんとは違って、私たちは始めからロクロを使えたの。先生が木を用意してくれて、道具も用意してくれて。先生に手取り足取りお世話になりっぱなしの弟子だった。先生が外国人の私を受け入れてくれてとても嬉しかった、私が真似して作れるように、私のための見本を作ってくれたし。プロのこけし職人のお弟子さんには、ただコンセプトや何を作るか話をして…お弟子さんはそれを作ったら、先生に見せに来る。そしたら先生は悪いところと良いところを指摘してくれるの。こたつに座って他のお弟子さん達のそういう場面に居合わせるのは面白かった。

女性は私と廣井先生の奥さんしかいなかったから、たくさん話を聞いたの。楽しかったわ。こたつに入って話し合ってるのを聞くのが楽しみだった。女子中学校、女子高校、女子大の英語の教師で、色々な場面で生徒を引っ張っていく役割になる私としては、日本人男性とテーブルを囲んで彼らの話を聞くのはそれだけで素晴らしいことだったの。だって話の殆どは独楽づくりのことで、キリスト教の学校で宣教師をしているときとは全然違う友情を築けたから。私を仲間の一人としていつでも受け入れてくれたの。

先生は見本もうまく作ってくれたから、それを見て私は自分で作ることができたわ。2つ作ったのだけど、1982年に作ったのが最初の独楽ね。自分の家族へのプレゼントで、たしか7~8個作ったの。ここに載っている作品の一つよ。その後に作ったのが、教会と7つの小道具の独楽がセットになっている作品。とにかく、ハックルベリーフィンやトムソーヤ、シンデレラとかを先生は作らせてくれたの。ここにある桃太郎と同じように、欧米の物語に対して抵抗のない先生の姿勢が私は好きだった。先生が作ったこの2つの独楽、これじゃなくてこっちの2つ。桃太郎と鬼、鬼は桃太郎の住む村を脅かす悪の存在よね。そして桃の少年。これがお母さんの作ってくれた『きび団子』をキジ、さる、犬にあげるの。そうすると3匹は悪い奴らを退治する手助けをする。何者も恐れず戦って、そして友となる。

興味深い話があってね。以前、8月の広島の日に先生の家を訪ねたあの日は、たくさんの思い出はあるけど、特に印象に残っている日よ。先生がご両親と東京にいた、東京大空襲の時の話をしてくれたの。先生のいた地域は軍需工場のある場所だった。先生の父親は独楽づくりができなくなって、軍事に関わる仕事をしなくてはいけなくなったから、その会社が独楽を買い取って、ロクロも他の独楽づくりの機械もみんな持って行って、それを木工職人がたくさんいる東北の白石市に送ってしまったの。でもご両親は、この時、先生の話だと飛行機がとても低く飛んでいてコックピットで聴いている音楽が先生の耳に届くほどの低さだった。そして辺りを爆撃していった。先生は父親と弟と学校にあるプールに一目散に駆けて行って、幸運にもプールの浅瀬の部分に飛び込んだ。プールの深いところに飛び込んだ人たちは底に沈んで、その上から次々に人がプールに飛び込んで覆いかぶさったから結局みんな死んでしまった。浅瀬の人たちは生き残った。母親と他の兄弟は、1人だったか2人だったか分からないけど、火災で死んでしまった。父親と弟が残されて、会社は3人を白石市に送ったの。

あの頃は酷い空襲から子どもを逃れさせるために、たくさんの家族が自分の子ども達を東北だとかの農家に送っていて、そういう東京っ子が送られた地域に行ったの。同じ地域から来た子ども達もいたけど、農家の人たちは快く思ってなかったのよね。自分たちが食べるだけでも精一杯。私の知り合いもみんな着物だとか売れる物は売ってたみたいだけど、それでも子どもを田舎の農家に送ったの。日本の農家は幸いにもヨーロッパのように軍隊が農場のすぐそばで戦火を交えるような陸戦を経験せずに済んだ。日本人は大都市が空襲にあったけれど、農場はまだ機能してた。都市部の人は食べ物に換えるために金目の物を持って出て行った。でも廣井先生は父親と弟と仙台から電車で1時間ほどの白石市で東北でも有名な木工職人になった。先生と弟さんは江戸独楽職人の生き残り。江戸は東京の昔の呼び名ね。

マリナ:お弟子さんは他にもたくさんいましたか?何人でした?

ジャネル:そうねぇ、何人残ってるのかしら。もうみんな歳をとったから。でも写真が残っていて、そこには、3, 4, 5, 6, 7人。プロもいれば、アマチュアの人もいる。私が独楽づくりを始めた時、弟子の中に仙台市の職員がいて、その人は自分へのご褒美に先生のところに通っていたの。とっても良い人でね、彼が作った独楽を私持っているわ。本当に美しい独楽で、よくその独楽を回して遊んでるわ。そっちの棚に置いてあるやつよ。それはともかく。前田さんという毎日通ってた人とは今も繋がってるの。まだロクロで何か作り続けている証拠ね。

***

マリナ:なぜ弟子になろうと思ったんですか?

ジャネル:そうね、ただ誰かが独楽を買って、誰かにそれをあげて、仙台にそれを作っている人が居ることを知った。私はただ感動したの。あとは、タイミングかしらね。何かを探していたわけでもなかったのよ。ただ偶然そうなった。アマノさんの連絡先を教えてくれた女性に英語を教える番組に出れることになって、とても運が良かった。とにかく、その人物に会ってみないか誘われたの。そしたら弟子になれちゃったのよ!芸術に興味はあったし、絵を描いたりしていたこともあったから。それでも絶対…私の父は木工も得意でね。この家の別の部屋にある大きなデスクも父が作ってくれたの。日本にも持って行ったし、アメリカに戻るときは一緒にこっちに戻ってきたの。でも父は実家の地下の部屋で作業していたわね。私が8年生の時に、7年生と8年生の女子は工作のクラスを履修することが許されていなくて、興味はないけど女子には家庭科なんかはあったわ。でも、弟子になったのはもう運命というものね。

マリナ:相撲セットを買ったのは、先生に出会う前ですか?それとも購入後?

ジャネル:そう、買う前。東京で見つけて買ったから、戦後間もないときも先生はまだ独楽を作って東京で売っていた、恐らく父親の繋がりがあってのことね。先生の父親は東京の人と繋がっていたから、まぁとにかく、東京に一度行った時に買ったの。それをアマノさんの娘さんたちにあげたのよ。楽しんでくれると思って。その時に、凧づくりの職人を探している最中だったのに独楽職人を見つけて、お相撲さんセットの独楽を作ったのがその独楽職人だったと判明したわけ。

マリナ:相撲の独楽をお嬢さんたちにあげてから先生に会うまでの期間はどれくらいでしたか?

ジャネル:そんなにかからなかったわね。数年…もしかしたら1年ちょっとだったかしら。その英語の番組繋がりであることは変わらないから、番組が何年に始まったのか判れば教えてあげたいのに。TBSで1年間やっていて、それで会えたの。

マリナ:何年に弟子になったんですか?

ジャネル:1982年ね。

ポーラ:何年くらい弟子として付いていたんですか?

ジャネル:日本を離れるまで。1995年までよ。最初の2~3年はきちんと習うというより、自分のロクロを手に入れるまでのステップの数年だった。さっき言ったけど、先生が見本を作ってくれて、それを自分で作ってみた。自分で作った独楽を載せた本があるの。これよ。あはは、すごく自由に作らせてもらってたのが見て取れるでしょ。先生は私がシンデレラ、小さなカボチャと、馬だとかを作るのを手伝ってくれたのよ。ふふふ。

マリナ:自分の作品は売りました?

ジャネル:えぇ、売るために作ってはいなかったけど。3年間、廣井先生やお弟子さんの独楽をデパートで販売するイベントをやっていて、今もやっているかどうか知りたくて。1月3~6日の3日間ね。その冊子もいくつか持ってるわ。どこにあるかしら…そこにあるわ。でも、その時に私の独楽も売ったの。人の手助けをする団体がに寄付されたの。自分で覚えてはいないけれど、冊子のどれかには載ってる。独楽で得たお金は、お弟子さんの独楽を売ったお金なんだけど、どこかの、人を助ける団体に寄付されたのよ。

***

マリナ:先生のレッスンを受ける場所まで、どれくらいの距離がありましたか?

ジャネル:レッスンを受けるのに?しばらくは仙台の南部まで行っていて。たいていは夕食時に行っていたわね。あれはイライラしたわ、だって2つの車線だったのが、橋を超えるためには1車線になるし、横入りしてくる車もいるし。先生の家に行く前の時点でもう気持ちが昂っちゃっていたわね。でもとにかく、先生はそこから別の村に引っ越して、そこはもっと遠かった。でも仙台南部にある温泉地にドライブに行くのは前より楽しかった。あとは東京に通じる大きな幹線道路から外れた場所にある場所とかね。でもそこに行く道は落ち着いてたから。いつもそこまで遠くはなかったの。

マリナ:レッスンはどんなものでしたか?

ジャネル:うーん。まぁ、五面の木を渡されて、ロクロに載せて作っていく。先生は自分のプロジェクトで何かを作っていて、私は先生が作っている過程を見ることもできるの。あとは…何か問題があれば先生が私のところまできて見てくれるの。1人でただ作っていく感じ。私がある程度できるようになったら、先生が私専用の旋盤を持たせてくれて、プロのお弟子さんが私の作った物を仕上げてくれて先生がそれを見るのと同じように私もそこで作業したわ。どんな作品を作るか話し合って、それから先生が何か作る…イカダとハックルベリーとトムを作ったの。こたつに集まってやる作業は、計画を立てることね。でも自分で何か作っているときには指導を受けるんじゃなくて、作品づくりをたくさん手伝ってもらっていたわ。

先生が好きだった、だって先生は柔軟で…すごく博識だったし。奥さんとのコンビもすごく面白くて。ご夫婦が仙台にいたときに、奥さんは仙台南部の農家出身で、どこの町だったか覚えていないけれど。お互いの父親が大親友だったの。先生の父親…奥さんの父親が訪ねてきていて。本当に仲が良かったから自分の息子が彼女の父親に…自分の娘が相手の息子にピッタリだと考えたの。でも東京っ子と農家の娘でしょ。奥さんは一度北海道に子守りの出稼ぎに出て家に仕送りしていたの。奥さんの母親は亡くなっていたからだったと思う。農家のつらい生活をする娘、おしけ?おしん、みたいな。そして東京の男性と結婚するの。その男性は日本の民話や童話にとても興味があって、東北の小さな町の農家の出よりも、たくさんの経験をしていると思うの。すごく面白い組み合わせ。奥さんは働く女性、旦那さんは芸術家。この村でお弟子さんがもってくる物の販売は奥さんの仕事。誰がどれくらい利益を得るのかも奥さんが管理する。奥さんはビジネスセンスがあるから。もちろん、家事なんかもお手の物。そして奥さんはーーロクロのところに奥さんの写真があるのよ。先生は奥さんに、物の作り方を教えたわ。まぁとにかく、本当に面白いカップルよ。

マリナ:独楽づくりで一番難しいのはどんなところですか?

ジャネル:一番難しいこと?時間との闘いだったわね。作る時間を取ること。自分のロクロがあると、そこまで移動しないでいいのよ。自分の家で後ろを振り返ればすぐ旋盤があって、宮城学院での教師の仕事が終わったら、制作に取り掛かれる。会議のために働いていた時とは違うから、自分でスケジュールを調整できる。学校で働いていると、この時間までは学校にいるって分かるからやりやすかった。自分の時間があるのに何もやらないと罪悪感を覚えちゃうじゃない?自分がやるべきことをするって中々簡単じゃないし。でも、しばらくしたら、そんなに罪悪感を感じなくなったわ。というか、フラストレーションかしら。だって先生はすごく寛大だったから。私がどんなにダメな物を作ったときだって、優しい言葉をかけてくれるんだもの。あはは。

ここにある写真が、これだから私、先生のこと好きなのよ。下の写真見て。先生が椅子に座って笑ってるの。一度、宴会を開いてみんなでご飯を食べたんだけど。これがアマノさん、これがタカハシさん、そして料理をすべて作ってくれた女性。

***

マリナ:廣井先生がコレクター用に作る独楽と、ジャネルが売り物でない独楽を作ると言っていましたが、そういう独楽との違いというのは、どんなところですか?

ジャネル:えぇ。先生は回しやすい物を作ってた、コレクターはひと味もふた味も違う物を求めてた。だから、そういう物を作って、お店に来てくれた人なら誰でも買えるようにしていた。私が先生に会って最初の頃は、先生はお店を持っていなくて、すごく…言ってしまえば、あばら家みたいなところ。すごく侘しい場所に住んでた。でもこの芸術家の集まった村に入って、素敵なお店も持てた。置いてある独楽のほとんどは自分の弟子の作品。そして、作品が売れたら、ビジネスウーマン・廣井夫人がお金を管理して、例えばマサユキさんの商品が売れたらそこで得たお金はマサユキさんに渡す。全額ではなく、師匠として教えてる料金が廣井先生に少しいくようになってる。委託みたいなもので何かを与えた分、いくらか対価が戻ってくるようになってるの。こんな風に、若いこけし職人が、腕の確かな独楽職人に育っていって、副収入もいくらか得られる一つのモデル。でも一つだけ、先生が面白いルールを作ったの。プロ職人さんが、こけしを作るときは必ず自分のサインを入れさせる。それを集める人たちがいるの。毎年新しいこけしを見て、職人もその分、歳を重ねる。たとえばマサユキさんの作品を毎年見ていたら、マサユキさんの成長を他の年の作品と比べて感じたりできるから。私には理解できないけどコレクターとしての醍醐味の一つね。でも廣井先生は自分の店にある独楽には名前を一つも付けていなかったわ。

独楽を買う人たちに、名前じゃなくて独楽自体を見て選んで欲しかったのね。ここが廣井先生の、こけしと独楽との違いかしらね。先生がコレクター向けの独楽を作る時にも同じことをしていたわ。違う独楽を毎月作るわけじゃないの。作品によっては複雑なつくりで50個もの数を用意するのには長い時間を要したから。そういう物にはサインを付けたかも。これは江戸独楽の作品で、廣井先生の作品だという証明になるから。でも、うーん、私がいた当時は村の中にお店があったから、先生の作品はそこに並んでいなかったわね。全部、プロの職人になったお弟子さんの作品だったわ。真実はさておき、愛弟子の作品にも平等に買ってもらうチャンスを与えたいっていう、先生としての優しさじゃないかと思うの。先生のあの優しさは有難かった。先生自身はその場にいたけど、販売はしていなかったから、こたつに座ってお弟子さんと新しいデザインについて話し合ったりできる。私にはちゃんと真似して作れるように先生がお手本を作ってくれたけど、プロのお弟子さんは廣井先生との話し合いや説明の中から自分で作品を産み出さないといけない。その話し合いから出来た作品を見せに持ってきたら、廣井先生がここは丸くした方がいいとか指導するの。自分が説明したものと違う物を持って来れば、何度でも作り直させた。お弟子さんがよく話に耳を傾けるように訓練をしていたのね。何度かその話し合いの場にいたことがあるけど、ただ先生の説明を座って聴いているだけでも、みんなすごくワクワクしてたのよ。

Lessons with Hiroi

In this post, Jan describes how she came to meet and work with Hiroi-sensei, how he taught his apprentices, and how she felt appreciated among a community of artists.

===

Malina: So, now I think we’re going to shift over to, um you’re work with Hiroi Sensei.

Janell: Yes. Uh-huh.

Malina: So how–you mentioned how you first met him, had you heard about him before?

Janell: No. No. He came from Tokyo and settled in Sendai but it was–I didn’t know he was there. It was through Mr. Amano’s connection, he and Mr. Takahashi helping Hiroi sensei and visiting for this particular, they discovering him. They found, like I said, they were looking for a kite-maker to interview on one of these new years programs because flying kites is the big thing for boys and playing badminton is for girls. And anyway, they didn’t find a kite-maker but a woman who was running–a japanese woman who had a nice book store was acquainted with Hiroi-sensei.  and she found that they had a top-maker right there in Sendai. And that’s when they found him and he was not well, and he was not making much money to live on. So they got him into the hospital and got him taking them on as apprentices. So they could get some money to him and assisting him in getting back to making tops. And around that period, I had been on that program with Mr. Amano’s wife and she was my associate and using the Japanese while I was doing the English. But anyway, he and his friend from the same company, TBS, asked me to be on this program. And they took me to the home of Mr. Hiroi. And I met Hiroi-sensei and his wife in a very strange house. They had one or two rooms besides the shop and we’d sit around the table and have tea after we finished working. 

So, there’s some pictures in this book of that room and the thing that was wonderful is, he had two lathes, one that he worked at and we sat and he could see us like that you know. We sat across from each other. And so, instead of like an apprentice does for a potter making clay for five or six years before they get on the wheel. We got on the lathe right from the very beginning. And he prepared the wood for us, he prepared our tools for us, so we were his apprentices but we were beholden completely to our teacher. I was so pleased with the way he accepted me as a foreigner and he actually would make, for me, he would make a model and then I could copy it. For his professional men who were his apprentices, the ones who made the dolls, he would just talk about the concept and talk about what…and then they’d make it and bring it back to him and then he’d tell them what was wrong with it and what was good about it. It was interesting to be there and sit in the same [kotatsu] with these other apprentices. 

And many times his wife and I were the only women, so we listened a lot. And it was fun. I enjoyed those times in the kotatsu and listening to the discussions. For a teacher of English who was with a college of junior high and senior high school girls, and in many ways being a leader for them, it was just wonderful to be able to sit around a tale with these Japanese men and listening to what they were talking about. Because a lot of the times it was about making the tops, but the friendships that developed in that area were some that were quite different from being a missionary in a Christian school. But I was always accepted as a valid person. 

And he was good at giving me examples and I would make them myself. I have two of them out there that I made, one in ‘82, that’s the first one. That was a present for my family, so I made I think seven or eight of them. That’s in one of these books too. Then the more recent one is the church with each item makes a top, there’s seven tops in that one. That one conglomeration of seven tops. But anyway, he let me do Huck Finn, and Tom Sawyer, Cinderella. I like that fact that he was open to European or American stories as well as these ones we have here of Momotaro. These two he made, this is not his, these two. Momotoro and the Onii, the devil, that were disturbing the life of his village. And the peach boy. Those are the [dango] that his mother made him that he gave one to the pheasant, one to the monkey, and one to the dog, and they helped him conquer these ugly bad guys. And they were fierce and then they became friends. 

But we had some interesting discussions. And my teacher once, around Hiroshima day in August, that was one of the most memorable times in my visits with him. He told me about when his parents and he were in Tokyo when the big bombing of Tokyo took place. Their part of Tokyo was connected with war-making factories. His father could no longer do tops, he had to use his…doing something connected to the war so that the company that bought his tops took his lathe and all his equipment and sent it up to [Shiroishi City] in Tohoku where there were a lot of woodworkers. But then the father and the mother… in this time…Sensei said the planes were so low he could hear the music that they were playing on the airplanes. They bombed that part of the city. He and his brother and father fled to the school pond, the swimming pool, and they jumped in the pool, fortunately in the shallow end. The people who jumped in the deep end went down to the bottom and other bodies went on top of them and they all perished. But the people in the shallow end survived. His mother and the siblings, I don’t know if it was one or two, perished in the fire. And his father and his brother were left, and this company sent them to Shiroishi to live. 

Many of the children of Tokyo at that time were sent out to farmlands and Tohoku was one area where they came, Tokyo kids, because their families were trying to save them from the terrible bombings that they were having. Some of them were in the same areas and the locals weren’t that glad to have them, you know. You’re struggling yourself with food, but in those years people that I knew sold their kimono or whatever, they took them to the farmers in the country. Fortunately the farmers in Japan didn’t experience what Europe experienced, the land warfare where the armies were fighting right out in the farmlands. The Japanese were bombed in big cities but the farmlands were still functioning. So the city people went out with their treasures and traded for food. But Mr. Hiroi– he and his father and brother went to the Sendai area, [Shirorishi] about an hour away on the train and then he became one of the Tohoku’s famous woodworkers. He and his brother are the two living members of the Edo-tops. Edo, the former name for Tokyo.

Malina: Did he have many other apprentices? How many other apprentices?

Janell: Well, I’m not sure how many are left. Because we’re all getting older. But I have a picture and there were oh about, three or four, five, six, seven. Some professional and then non-professional. When I was starting my work there there was a man who was an employee for Sendai City and he went there as a treat to himself, and he was very good and I have a top that he made, really beautiful top, on that I often use. It’s way over there, but anyway. And now we have a connection with Mr. Maeda who’s there every day. That means I think he’s working on the lathe. 

Malina: How did you become interested in becoming his apprentice?

Janell: Well, it was just buying that [??} and giving it to somebody and finding out that right there in Sendai was the man who made it. And I was impressed with him and I just…it was timing. I, nothing I can say I was looking for. It just happened. And I was so fortunate to be able to be on that program teaching English to the women that gave me a contact with Mr. Amano. And anyway, to be invited to meet this man. And then be able to be an apprentice [excited noise]. Because I had been interested in art and I draw pictures and stuff. But, I never had any…my father was a woodworker. He made a  big desk for me that’s in another room here. I took that to Japan and brought it back, but my father was working down in the basement of our house. When I was an eighth grader, in the seventh and eighth grade, girls weren’t allowed to take shop but we had cooking and sewing, and so I wasn’t interested in that stuff. But, being an apprentice was just a work of fate.

Malina: So, you had bought a [sumo-set] before you met him, or was that after?

Janell: Yes, before. Because I found that in Tokyo, he was making things still and selling things in Tokyo that, right after the war, because of the connection probably to his father. His father had this connection with people in Tokyo, but anyway, I bought that when I went to Tokyo one time. And I gave it to Mr. Amano’s little girls. And thought it was fun. And then they found when they were looking for a kite-maker they found the top-maker and found out that he made that set of sumo wrestlers.

Malina: How long before you met him did you give the girls the set?

Janell: It wasn’t too much before that. A couple..maybe a year or so. Because it was still connected to that program and I wish I could tell you what years that program was on. One year it was on TBS and that connection.

Malina: What year did you become his apprentice?

Janell: ‘82.

Paula: For how long were you apprenticed to him?

Janell: Until I left Japan. ‘95. There wasn’t a real apprentice after a couple of years because my teacher helped me get my own lathe. Like I say he’d make me a sample and I’d make it on my own. I have a book of the stuff I made. This is it. [laughs] You can see in that book the freedom I was given. And he helped me do a Cinderella, a little pumpkin and the horses and anyway [laughs].

Malina: Did you sell yours?

Janell: Yes, I didn’t make ‘em for sale. Then for three years–and I wanted to find out if they’re still doing that–one of the department stores has a sale of Mr. Hiroi’s apprentice’s and his tops for sale. Three days in that January 3 and January 6. I had a couple of books of that. Where are they–over there. But I had my things there for sale at that time. The money for our things one year went to an organization for helping people with something. I had…I don’t have it in my head, I have it in one of these books. The money that we made from the tops that time–some of it was from the apprentices–was given to an organization for some use for others.

Malina: How far did you travel to take lessons, to work with him?

Janell: To get lessons? For a while I was going to the southern part of Sendai. I usually went around supper time. It was a frustrating experience because two lanes went into one to cross a bridge and you’d have these guys who would sneak in [makes driving noise]. I was kind of high before I got even to my teacher’s house. But anyway, then he moved from that place to this village and that was further, but it was a more interesting ride into this hot spring town south of Sendai. The other one was off a main thoroughfare that went down to Tokyo, you know. But this one was a more quiet route. So, I was never really far.

Malina: What was a daily lesson like?

Janell: Mmm. Well, it was like being given a piece of wood that was five-sided and you’d put it on the bit, and working, and the teacher was often working on a project that I could watch him do. And there’s a… if I had any trouble he would come and look at me. It was just me doing work. After I got good enough he got me this lathe of my own and I went there just like the pro-deshi [apprentices] did with the things I made and he would look at them. And we would discuss what project we could do and then he’d make something…made the raft and Huckleberry and Tom. So there were things done in the kotatsu, around the table. Planning. But when I had my own I wasn’t getting lessons anymore I was getting assistance and a great deal of help. 

I liked my teacher because he was willing to…and he was knowledgeable. It was an interesting combination of him and his wife. When they were in Sendai, she was from a farm home down south of Sendai, I can’t remember the town. And her father and his father were very close friends. They’d his father…Her father would come and visit. [laughs] They were such good friends that they decided his son and her father…his daughter, his daughter was just right for the son. Now, this is a Tokyo son and a farmer girl. Who for part of her life was sent to Hokkaido to be somebody’s babysitter and send the money back because her mother had gone, had died, I think. It was just like an oshikei story oshiin, of the hard life of this farm-woman. And then she married this Tokyo-man. But he had a lot of interest in Japanese folklore, and I think coming out of Tokyo he had a background that was much broader than coming from a little town and farm in Tohoku. It’s an interesting combination. But she’s the business woman and he’s the artist. She handles all of these things that the apprentices bring to sell in the store in connection with his shop in this village. She keeps track of how much this man should get and how much this man should get. She was very good at business, and of course, cooking and taking care of the house. And then she was on–there’s a picture of her there on the lathe. He let her–he taught her how to make things. But anyway, it was an interesting combination.

Malina: What was the most challenging aspect of the top-making?

Janell: The most challenging? Time was an issue. Having the time to do it. When I had my own lathe I didn’t have to travel so far. It was right behind me in my house and I could work after school when I was teaching at Miyagi. It was different when I was working for the conference because then I could plan my own schedule. When I worked at school I was at school this time and by this time so it was easier to organize. When I had my own time, I’d feel guilty when I wasn’t working, you know. It’s not as easy to do what you thought you should do. But, after a while, otherwise I didn’t feel any hardships. Or frustrations, because my teacher was very generous. He’d even say something nice even when it was dumb [laughs].

Here’s a picture when he had…this is why I like my teacher. Just look at that bottom picture. Look at him sitting in a chair smiling. We had this wonderful party and we had food. There’s Mr. Amano, and Mr. Takahashi, and the woman who did all my cooking.

Malina: Was there a difference between the types of tops Hiroi made for collectors, well you said you didn’t make any for sale, was there a difference?

Janell: Yes, he’d make some that were easy to spin, but the collectors were interested in something that’s really different. And so, he would make them and anybody who came there to visit could buy them. He didn’t have a shop when I first met him, he was in this very–what I call a hovel. A very poor place to live. But then we joined this artisan’s village then he had a nice shop to go with it. And most of the tops in that shop were done by his disciples, his deshi. And then they would get the money that they–Mrs. Hiroi was the business woman. The money that they got from those that say Masayuki made, then he, those were–all that money went to him with a bit for the sensei. You know like one of the consignment things where you give things and you get some of the money back. So these, this is one way he was helping these young professional doll-makers also become skilled top-makers and they could earn some extra money that way. But the one rule he made was interesting, the professional men who were skilled in making the dolls, they always signed their name on the bottom and some of the dolls were collected faithfully by certain people. Every year they’d get another one and the number of how old the person was would change each year. Then you could compare how many, if you collected Masayuki’s all every year you could see how he developed or how it went down and so on. That’s a collecting technique that I didn’t follow. But, my teacher himself asked that none of the tops that were sold in his store, none of them have a name on the bottom.

He wanted the people to buy the tops for the appearance and not for the name. And that indicates a difference between the dolls and tops in my teacher’s case. And when he made tops for the collectors, he did that. Not a different top every month because some of them were quite complicated and took a long time to make fifty of one kind. Those he might sign for the collector, because that was a verification that this was Hiroi-sensei’s and that’s an Edo top. But, um, when I was there in the shop that was part of that village, his things were not on the shelves. All of the tops were made by his professional deshi. I don’t…I think it indicated a kind heart of a teacher who wanted his disciples to have equal access to the buying public. And I appreciated his generosity. He didn’t handle the business he was there, they would sit in the kotatsu and talk with him and discuss some new designs. He, for me he made it so I could copy it, but for his professional disciples they had to make it from his words, from his descriptions. And when they’d come back with what they made and then he would pick out that should be a little bit rounder there or something. He would make them do it over if it wasn’t what he was suggesting. So that trained them to listen very carefully. And I was in on some of those sessions, they were exciting to be there, just sitting there and listening to him instruct them.

廣井先生と独楽づくりの流れ

ここでは独楽をつくるために必要な、難しい工程でもある木工作業について、そして日本の独楽の長い歴史について説明している。

===

ポーラ:あのう、弟子を教える時、あの最初の芸術、それとも一番大事なお教えは何でしょうか。

廣井:ううん、一番大事なことか。一番大事なことって何だ。

ポーラ:それとも最初のステップ。

廣井:一番最初と、そんな難しいこと言わなかったからな。好きなんだからやれっていうことで。でとにかく最初は手を、手を添えて、削り方を教えてあげて、誰でもこう分かるように、手をとって教えてやって、であと、こう、徐々に手放して。んで、やるようにして。だから、比較的に速く。ううん、速い人だと、半年ぐらいで、独楽一個ぐらいできるになってましたね。で時間のかかる人は、ずいぶんかかる人はかかってっけども。

もう大体、半年か一年で独楽をあの、こうひねる、弟子の独楽ぐらいまでできるようになってましたね。だから一番大事なことって、特に教えなかったね。自分が覚えようっていう気持ちが一番大事だからね。

でこれはまぁあの昔みたく、何て言うの、もう親の跡はどうしても継がなきゃならないとか、好きでなりたいとかじゃなくて、あのう親がやってれば必ずそいつはやらならなきゃならないんだっていうことで。もう、ほとんど強制的にやらされてた我々はね。ところがほら趣味の人は好きでやるから、うん好きでたまらないで習いたいから、大事なこととか何とかって教える以前にもう好きなんだから、余計なことを言う必要なかったのね。そんで手を添えて、とにかく一個でも、なるべく速く、できるように。すっとあのガタガタでも何でもね、一個できてこうやると、ものすごく喜ぶんですよね。でそれがまた病みつきになって、次また来て、さらにもっといいの作ろうと、自分で頑張るようになって。でずっとしてランディス先生なんか、ずいぶん上手になったんですけどね。あれアメリカに帰らなきゃ今頃相当、上手になってっと思うんだけど、へへへ。

ポーラ:あのう弟子の時間が完了の後、どのようにあの、元の弟子の方と連絡を取り合いますか。

廣井:ううんあのう、別に連絡を取り合うっつうことはないですね。弟子の都合のいいときに習いに来るっていうことで。でこっちから、どうこうって言うことは何もなかったし。で弟子は、やりたいときに来て、ま来たらば教えてやるっていう。そういう感じでしたね。だからその点、かなり自由でしたね。だから何も強制はしてないし。それはあのう、プロの人もアマチュアの人も、一緒。

ポーラ:であのう、弟子の、弟子を教えることですが、日常の弟子に対するレッスンではどのようなことをしますか。

廣井:ううん、馬鹿話だね。でみんな、アハハオホホと笑い、笑い転げて、楽しむだけ楽しんで。というのね、あのう、いろんなしゃべりがうちであるし、そのしゃべりの中にみな、面白い、うん江戸の、粋(いき)とか洒落とかっていう、のはユーモアとかね。そういうのがいっぱい含まれているので、あの堅苦しく、こう講義するような、教室で教えるような、やり方しても、たとえ覚えていても、この面白いものができなくなっちゃうんですね。だからもう、グルっと砕けて、半分は遊んでるように。であのう自由に。

その人の、なんつうの、持ち味でもって。ただあのう、江戸独楽っていう枠はありますけど、その中で、自由に、遊びながら作ってもらって。だから楽しみながら、みんな覚えてもらったと思うんですけど。これは趣味の人もプロの人も一緒だと思うんですけどね。それがないと本当に面白いのができないんですよね。こう、これはこうだからこうしなさい、これはこうだからああしないなんて、教えるのもいいんですけど、すっとみんな同じようなものになっちゃって、面白さがなくなっちゃうのね。で人それぞれほら個性がありますから、その個性を活かすために、自由に、で面白く、楽しみながら作ってもらって。でそれはプロもアマチュアも一緒。

ポーラ:であのう、木の、あのう技術を習得するのなかで一番難しいところは何だと思いますか。まあ独楽だけではなくて…

廣井:あ、一番難しいって言うとね、そのせいかんって、あのう木を木取りすることと、それからあと刃物を作る、鍛冶屋ね。道具作り。それが難しいですよね。道具が上手にできて木取りが上手にできれば、何でもできるんですけど。削るだけだったら本当にあのう、趣味の人でもみんなもできるんですけど、プロとなる、なるとそれだけではプロになれないので、それまでに、轆轤に乗せるまでの、あー前の支度のための、あの木取りって言って、あのこういう原木をこう細かく切って、さっき前田くん今あそこで切ってましたけど、木取りと、あと使ってる刃物、その刃物はあのう作る品物によって、いろんな刃物を自分で考えて、作るんですけど。

それがこう、うまくできないと一人前にはなれないんですよね。それはね、教えも、文使ってなかなか難しいんで、結局自分で覚えるしかないんですけど。ま基本的なことは教えるんですけど。ただほら、鍛冶屋でないからね、ほん、こっちは鍛冶屋は素人だけど自分流でやってるんですけど。まあその自分流を一応教えて、まあそれも、一つ伝統なのかも分からないんですけど。でうちで使ってる道具を教えてやって。で前田君なんかは今、自分で考えて道具なんか自分で作ってますけどね。でそういうふうになってくると一人前なんですけど。で難しいって言えば、むしろそっちのほうですね。

ポーラ:あのう、江戸独楽なんですが、江戸独楽あの、江戸独楽の特徴について少しあの、説明していただけませんか。例えば、まああの、どのように他の独楽と違いますか。

廣井:あぁ…他の独楽と全然違う、よね。あのう、大体他、ま日本に色々な場所にあのう、その土地土地の名物の独楽があるんですけど、それはほとんどがみな外で回す独楽なんですけど。うちのこの江戸独楽は、ま、もちろん外で回す独楽もあるんですけど、ま、ほとんどが、座敷独楽って家の中で遊ぶ、独楽なんですね。でなか、家の中で回して遊んで、まあゲームをしたり、色んな動き見て、楽しんだり。で回さない時はこう飾っておいて、飾って楽しんで。で楽しみ方がいくつもある独楽なんですよね。で、特徴としては、座敷独楽で、家の中で、大体遊ぶ、独楽なんですね。

で種類が多くて。うん、種類が多くなったのも、ええ昔、江戸時代に、あの独楽って日本の場合はね、昔はあの、大昔、もう千年も、二千年も昔は、あのうお正月の元日の朝に、あのう、宮廷で、独楽を回して、それで、その年の、ううん、なんていうか…国の方針を決めてたみたいなんですよね。占い、占いに使ってたんだけどね。でお正月の元日の朝に独楽を回す役の人がいて、独楽を回して、この止まった方角でもって、今年は、あのう豊作になるとか、凶作になるとか、だからこうしなきゃないとか、ああしなきゃならないとか、そういう色々なことを決めてた、のに使ってたみたいで、でその、一つがね、あのう、ここ、新幹線作る時に、名取市で、あの昔の清水遺跡っつったかな、遺跡があったの。で新幹線通すためにその遺跡をほ、発掘したの、ね。したらそこの、井戸の中から、あの、独楽と、それから笛、と櫛と、三つが出てきたんですよ。でその中の一つはあの、高城に県立の民俗博物館っていうところがあるんですけど、そこに保存されてるんですね。今もそう保存されていますけど。

このぐらいの大きさのね、独楽で。で轆轤で間違いなく引いてるの。これは多分日本で一番古いものじゃないかなと思うんですけど、大体千年ぐらい前、だったそうです。でやっぱりそうやってあのう、井戸の中からそうやって笛とか櫛が一緒に出てきたっていうことは、やっぱりあの何かそういう占いとか、おま、なんつったらいいのかな…何かの決め事とか。あと笛と櫛があるっていうことは、なんかお祭り、があったりとか。だから色々な、なんつうのか、なんつったらいいのか、今で言えばなあ。おまじないっていうか、占いっていうか。それでね、やっぱりなんか物事決めてたみたいで。

でその井戸の中にそのいうのがその入って埋まってたっていうことは、あのう、当時、なんつうのあのう、流行り病い、病気、例えば疫痢とか赤痢が流行ると、井戸を埋めたんだそうですね。あの水飲むとほら、伝染するんで。でその井戸はもう使わないように埋めてしまうので、その時にその、ううん、なんつうんだ、いけ、ううん…なんだ生け贄か。生け贄みたいな感じで、そういう独楽とか、櫛とか、普段日ごろ使ってるものを、一緒に埋めたんだそうですね。その跡でないかっていう、話なんですけど。でその独楽はね、間違いなくあの轆轤で引いてるのは間違いないんです。で鉋(かんな)の、目の、鉋目(かんなめ)の跡がついてるし。

であのう、回した跡が残ってるんですよ、あの、独楽の先がね、こう砂で擦れて、丸くなってるの。で何度も回したんですね。だからやっぱり占いに使ったんじゃないかなっていうことで。そ、そこの遺跡のしゅ、この集落の一番偉い人が、あーそれを回して、何か占ってたんじゃないかなって話なんですけどね。でその、時ね、あの、こういう形の独楽なんですけど。こういう形の独楽ですけど……うんとね、こういう形の、独楽なんですけど…でここにね…こういう、こういう風に…模様、鉋の模様が入ってて…でこの辺が擦れてるのね。こう砂でこう擦れて。でここにね、穴ではないんですけど、こうノコギリで切ってビっと折った跡が、穴が開いたようになって、あったのね。こう上から見ると、こういう感じで。でこれ心棒がついていたんでねえかっていうことで、もし心棒がついてれば、うん、大変なこと、大発見だからっていうことで、見てくれって言われて、見に行ってきたんですけど。で見たらば、ここノコで切った跡があって、で切りきれなくてこうビってこう、もいだ、跡なんですね。でそれ言ったら、この時代はノコギリはなかったはずだって。だけどこれ間違いなくノコギリで切った跡だからっつたら、これがまた大発見で。ノコギリの歴史で、ええそうなるとノコギリの歴史が変わるって。でこの時代すでにノコギリがあったっていうことになると大変なことなんだ、なんて。で大騒ぎになって、で独楽も大騒ぎしたけど、そちらのノコギリの方も大騒ぎで。へへへ。歴史が何百年だか遡るとかなんとかってね。そっちの方が大騒ぎになって独楽の方が、あの、永久保存しとくからって触らせられないって。ははは。で今もたぶんあるはずですね。

ポーラ:であの、ランディスさんの江戸、廣井先生からの江戸独楽のコレクションにある芸術品はどのようなものですか。もう少し説明してくださいませんか。

廣井:あぁ。色々ある。あれ、昨日の写真は?

ポーラ:ああ、ま、あのう、明日見て、それを見てちょっとあの先生が一個一個説明できますが、全体としてどのようなテーマがあるかとか、そのような…

廣井:ああ、テーマは一つ一つみんなあるんですね。だから全部まとめてのテーマっていうよりは一個一個にテーマがあって、謂れがあって、それが全部まとめて江戸独楽なんですよね。

Hiroi-sensei and the top-making process

In this post, Hiroi-sensei describes the difficult process of woodworking behind top creation as well as the long history of tops in Japan

===

Paula: When you’re teaching apprentices, what is the first skill you teach them? Or, what do you think is the most important lesson?

Hiroi: Mmm, the most important one? What is the most important one?

Paula: Or the first step.

Hiroi: Well, I don’t really say such difficult things like “first step.” It’s [more like] “Do it because you love it.” Anyway, at first you mimic the hand movements, and I teach how to carve. So that anyone can learn it, I take their hands and show them, and after that, little by little back off, so they are doing it on their own. So it’s [learned] rather quickly. People who take a longer amount of time take about half a year before they can make a single top. And people who take a while, there are some that take quite a long time.

Usually apprentices struggled with the tops for half a year or a year, and then were gradually able to make apprentice tops. So it’s not that there’s a particularly important thing I teach them. The most important thing is for them is the feeling that they want to learn it themselves.

And this, well, in the past, it was that no matter what, a master’s skills had to be inherited, not that you did it because you liked it, and if the master did it a certain way, you had to do it exactly like that. It was like we absolutely had to do it one way. But people who do it for a hobby do it because they love it, they learn it because they just enjoy it, and before I teach them something like “an important [lesson],” they already love it, so there’s no need to say such unnecessary things like that.  So I lend a hand so that they can make even just one [top], no matter how long it takes. Even if it wobbles a little or something, if they can make even one top, I’m so happy. And then they get absorbed in [making them], and they come again wanting to make a better one and want to give it their best on their own. And they keep at it, and like Landis-sensei get really good at it. That she had to go back to America– I think it was fitting, since she became so good at [top making]. Heh heh heh.

Paula: When your apprentices’ training is done, how do you keep in touch with them?

Hiroi:  Mmm, I don’t really keep in touch with them. When my apprentices have time they come for a lesson. I don’t really say anything [to keep up with them] on my part. Apprentices come when they want to work on [their skills], and if they come, I teach them. It’s like that. So it’s very free in that way. So I don’t force them to do anything. It’s the same for those who are pros and those who are amateurs.

Paula: In the teaching of your apprentices, what is a daily lesson like?

Hiroi: Mmm, just foolish talk. And everyone rolls around laughing, “hahaha,” “hohoho,” and just enjoys themselves. We talk about all kinds of things here, and in those conversations there’s fun things, humor like the Edo iki*, and jokes. There’s a lot of that [when we get together], and if I were giving a strict lecture, or teaching as if I were in a classroom, then I couldn’t make learning and teaching interesting. So I break it up and make it half play. And very free-form.

And those [apprentices], how should I put it? They have their own distinctive character. And there’s a certain style of Edo tops, but within that, I [have them] make make it in their own way while enjoying themselves. So everyone learns while having fun. It’s the same for those doing it professionally and as a hobby. If you don’t have that, then you really can’t make interesting tops. It’s fine to teach it like, “This is like this, so do it like this. This is like this, so don’t do that,” but then everyone will make the same things, and their charm disappears. Everyone is their own person, so in order to make the best use of that individuality, they [should] make them freely, doing interesting things while enjoying themselves. For pros and amateurs alike.

Paula: What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of learning the woodworking craft? Not just making tops…

Hiroi: The most challenging part is the seikan, sawing the wood, making the tools– blacksmithing. Tool-making. That is difficult. If you can skillfully make the tools and saw the wood, you can do anything. If it’s just carving, even a person doing it as a hobby can manage, but if you become a pro, you can’t be a professional just with that [skill], so until you get on the lathe, the preparation before that is the sawing [kidori 木取り], finely cutting the actual tree trunk. Some time ago Maeda-kun cut some of the ones over there, and to saw in the kidori style, he made tools, and the tools were based on the items he made; he came up with a variety of tools by himself.

If you can’t make your own tools well, you won’t be able to come into your own [as a top-maker]. It’s difficult to teach it as well as to use a design, and in the end you just have to learn it yourself. Well, I teach the fundamentals. But I’m not a blacksmith, you know. Though I’m an amateur at smithing, I have my own style. I tentatively teach my own style of it, though I don’t know if that’s in itself a kind of tradition. I teach about the tools that I use here [at my workshop]. And now Maeda-kun is thinking about it himself and making his own tools. If you’re able to do that, then you’ve matured [as a top-maker]. That’s actually what’s most difficult.

Paula: Um, regarding the Edo tops, can you explain a bit about their characteristics? For example, how are they different from other tops?

Hiroi: Ahh, they’re totally different from other tops. Umm, well, in Japan there are many different tops that are the famous product of different areas, but these are almost all tops that you spin outside. The tops that I make, well, of course you can spin them outside, too, but almost all of them are called “tatami tops” and are meant to be played with and enjoyed indoors. And when you’re not playing with them you display them, and enjoy them that way. They’re tops that you can enjoy in a number of ways. Their characteristics are that they’re “tatami tops,” you use them indoors, and you usually play with them.

And there’s many different types. That there’s a lot of types, too, is something from long ago, in the Edo period… In Japan, long ago, in ancient times, a thousand or two thousand years ago, on the morning of New Year’s Day, at the imperial court they spun tops and, err, how should I describe it? They wanted to create the country’s policies, so they used [the tops] for fortune-telling. And there was an official who spun tops on the morning of New Year’s Day, and through what direction they stopped on, decided things like harvest will be good this year, or the harvest will be bad, so we have to do this or we can’t do this, etc., and [the tops] were used that way. One of them was, umm, when they built the bullet train here, in the city of Natori, there was an archaeological site called Shimizu, i think. And they excavated it to build the bullet train tracks. When they did, from inside a well they found three things: a top, a flute, and comb. One of those items is preserved in the prefectural Folk Museum in Takajo. I think they still have it.

The top is about this big. And there’s no doubt it was made with a lathe. I think it might be the oldest [top found] in Japan, and it was about a thousand years old. And the fact that it was found like that in the well, with the flute and the comb, means it was probably used to fortune-telling, or a charm, or… what should I call it? Used for deciding something. That there was a flute and a comb along with the top meant that it was for a matsuri (festival/ritual). So it is said to be for something like that. A good luck charm, or fortune-telling. It seems it was probably for deciding important things.

And burying it inside the well like that, what would you call it today? Um, you would bury such things in the well when there was an outbreak of contagious disease or illness, like dysentery in children or regular dysentery. If you drank the water in the well, the disease would spread. So they’d fill in the well so it couldn’t be used anymore, and at that time [the objects] would be sort of like a sacrifice. It would be like you were sacrificing them, and the top, the flute, things you usually use everyday would be buried [along with the well]. And people think that’s what they were used for.  And there’s no doubt that the tops were made using a lathe. And there was evidence of shavings from a lathe (kanname 鉋目).

And there’s evidence it was spun, too! On the tip of the top, it was rubbed by grit and rounded off. It must have been spun a number of times. So it was probably used for fortune-telling. It was probably that the most elite person in the village where those remains were used it for fortune-telling. And at that time, it was a top shaped like this. This kind of shape, but… umm, a top shaped like this, but… here, like this, there was a pattern from using a plane tool… and this area was rubbed away. Rubbed away by grit. And here, there was no hole, but it had [evidence] that it had been broken by being snapped off with a saw, so it looked like there was a hole. If you looked at it from the top, it looked like this. It was said that it looked like there was a shaft there, and if that was the case, it was really incredible, a breakthrough discovery. I asked to see it, and went there. Looking at it, there was evidence it had been cut with a saw, and that it had been cut and snapped off. And when I said that, they said they didn’t think there were saws around in use during that time period. But since this was evidence that without a doubt it had been cut with a saw, this was a huge discovery. For the history of saws, they said that if that was the case it would change the history of saw usage. And that it was incredible that in this period they already had saws. And everyone made a big fuss about it and about tops, and the people involved in saws also clamored about it. Hehehe. The history goes back hundreds of years. They were all excited about it and top people weren’t allowed to touch it because they wanted to preserve it forever. Hahaha. I expect they still have it [at the museum].

Paula: What kind of objects are in the collection of Edo tops that Landis-sensei has? Could you explain a little about them?

Hiroi: There’s all kinds of them. Ah– where are the photos from yesterday?

Paula: Ahh, well, um, tomorrow we’ll look at them and you can explain a little about them one by one, but overall, [could you explain about] what kind of themes they’re on, that sort of thing…

Hiroi: Ahh… the themes depend on the top. So rather than there being an overall theme, each one of them has one, and they have their own stories, so all together they’re Edo tops.

 

メディ・ポスト:ジャネルのインタビュー(2013年)

Janell and her collection at home in 2013.

2013年4月、テネシー州プレザント・ヒルに住むジャネル・ランディスの友人、ジェーン・ヘラルドは日本のアートについてGoogleで検索した。たまたま見つけたのが、ミシガン大学の大学院博士課程に在籍し中世日本の職人の歴史について研究している学生、ポーラ・カーティスが運営するブログ ”What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies? (日本研究の学位があると何ができますか?)”※だった。「日本の江戸独楽のコレクションを安心して預けられる場所を探すのを手伝ってくれないかしら?」ジェーンからの最初のメールだった。

ジェーンの隣人であり友人でもあるジャネル (88歳)が日本の宮城県仙台市にある宮城学院女子大学で(1953年から)30年以上教師をしていたこと、その間に江戸独楽を専門とする工芸職人、廣井道顕氏に弟子入りしていたことをジェーンは説明した。江戸独楽は独特な様式の伝統的な木製の独楽で、日本で歴史が長い。 ジャネルは日本で生活していた歳月の中で廣井氏の作品である独楽を100個以上も集めていた、どこか独楽を寄贈できる博物館を見つけたいと思っていたのだが、どこも見つからない。『どこかジャネルのコレクションを引き取ってくれる博物館を紹介してくれないかしら?それか、何かほかにできることがあれば教えてくれない?こんなに綺麗なものを物置に押し込むようなことしたくないのよ』

その意見に賛同したポーラは、何人か知り合いにあたってみたが、独楽の寄贈を受け入れてくれる博物館を探すのは骨が折れるかもしれないと気がかりであった。そこでポーラはパブリック・ヒストリー※研究者マリナ・ローズ・スーティに連絡を取り、口述歴史記録プロジェクトとして、珍しい例であるジャネルとコレクションの経緯について取り上げ、見込みのありそうな博物館に独楽の受け入れを働きかけることができないか話し合った。2013年10月、ポーラとマリナはプレザント・ヒルにあるジャネルの家に招かれ、3日間にわたりジャネルにインタビューし、美しい独楽のコレクションを見せてもらった。

ジャネルの家を訪ねた際の写真です。ポーラとマリナに自分のコレクションや独楽を回して見せてくれました。

※”What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?”(日本研究の学位があると何ができますか?)は日本研究をしている学生や日本研究に関わったことのある人たちが、留学・研究・仕事などを通して経験したこと、日本の文化や習慣なども含め、あらゆる情報の交換を目的として記事を提供しているブログ。

※パブリック・ヒストリーはアカデミックな歴史とは逆に、実生活における応用の歴史を保存、博物館展示、口述歴史として記録する分野の学問。

 

Media post: Interviewing Janell in 2013

Janell and her collection at home in 2013.

In April of 2013, Jane Heald, a resident of Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, and friend of Janell Landis, took to Google for help on information about Japanese art. By chance, she stumbled across What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?, a blog run by Paula R. Curtis, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan working on the history of medieval Japanese artisans. “Can you help us find a home for a beautiful collection of Japanese Edo Tops?” her email began.

Jane explained that her neighbor and friend Janell (88) taught at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai, Japan for over thirty years (beginning in 1953), and during that time was apprenticed to Mr. Michiaki Hiroi, an artisan who specialized in Edogoma 江戸独楽. Edogoma, a particular style of traditional wooden spinning top, have a long tradition in Japan. As it happened, Janell collected over a hundred of Hiroi’s tops over the course of her time in Japan, and though she hoped to find a museum to donate her collection to, thus far they had no luck. “Could you recommend another museum that would like to receive her donation? Or advise us another way to proceed? These beautiful objects shouldn’t be suddenly shoved into storage on short notice,” Jane wrote.

In full agreement, Paula contacted several colleagues, but worried about the time it might take to find a museum willing to accept the donation. She then contacted public historian Malina Rose Suity to discuss the possibility of an oral history project that would both preserve Janell’s unique history with the collection and promote it to potential museums. In October of 2013, Paula and Malina were invited to Janell’s home in Pleasant Hill, where they conducted interviews with Janell over the course of three days and were introduced to her beautiful top collection.

These are photos of the interview trip at Janell’s home, where she showed Paula and Malina her collection and how to spin her tops.

Newspaper article 新聞記事: Setting out to restore traditional wooden toys 伝統の木地がん具復元にかける

Hiroi-sensei has also appeared in newspapers as a well-known Edo top maker. Below is a translation of an article entitled “Setting out to restore traditional wooden toys” that ran the newspaper Asahi Shinbun on January 14, 1982See the original Japanese article at the link below.

廣井先生はよく知られている江戸独楽の職人として新聞記事で特集されています。1982年1月14日、「朝日新聞」が廣井先生についての記事を掲載しました。以下のリンクでアクセスできます。

Click here for the original article: 歴史記事はこちら

=====

Setting out to restore traditional wooden toys

In Sendai, there is an artisan whose work appeals to people who love toys made from wood; he continues the restoration of these traditional objects. An artisan turning pulpwood on the lathe and making toys, Hiroi Michiaki (48) is a specialist* even among woodworkers. At the New Year, his “sulking dog (sune inu)” top was brought back.

Hiroi was born in Tokyo’s shitamachi in Honjo Fukagawa. Hiroi is a third-generation [woodworking] specialist ; his grandfather did [woodworking] as a pastime and quit his job as a doctor to become a specialist. Hiroi is an artisan who inherited the tradition of Edo-style wooden toys. He was evacuated [during WWII] to Sendai.

The world of making wooden toys on lathes is vast. Many of the items that Hiroi produces are technically difficult and take a great deal of labor to make. In the time that he could make three kokeshi, he often can only make a single [wooden top]. It takes a month and a half to make about one hundred tops. “I’m deprived of free time,” he laughed. He recalls how to make many of the toys by muscle memory. There are no diagrams or exemplars. One by one, the toys are resurrected from what the body remembers. Asked by a Tokyo-based admirer [to make them], Hiroi began to create the wooden tops with the goal of restoring one hundred types over fifty years. “When the lathe spins, your hands naturally begin to move, and the shape [of the top] appears.”

“The  first dream of the new year (hatsuyume)” is [a top with] a falcon spinning at the summit of Mt. Fuji. “Monster (obake)” is one where a monster leaps from a well when the top stops spinning. There are many stylish, refined tops that seem to embody Edo toys. On the stand of the “sulking dog” top for the New Year there is a pattern of a tengu with his [elongated] nose and an okame with her [open] mouth, designed to complement one another. The dog is sulking about their good relationship.

Hiroi’s admirers come to his shop to receive his toys and enjoy conversation with him while playing with the tops. “Everyone is carefree and cheerful.”

===

* The term used in the article is 紅物師, which is slightly unusual. The 紅 character refers to a deep red color, and akamonoshi 赤物師 (赤 meaning red) is another word for a kokeshi maker. So here the use of 紅 might be a play on characters to mean a much deeper talent.