Tag Archives: Akiu Craft Park

Newspaper article 新聞記事:Craft Village Calls for Four Apprentices

Hiroi-sensei has appeared many times in Japanese newspapers. Below is a translation of an article entitled “Craft Village Calls for Four Apprentices” that ran November 11, 2012 in the newspaper Kahoku shinpō. See the original Japanese article at the link below.

廣井先生は多数の新聞記事で特集されています。2012年11月11日、河北新報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 in Japanese.

日本語での記事はこちら

===

Craft Village Calls for Four Apprentices

Kokeshi, Edogoma, Sendai tansu, Tea Utensils

Sendai and Akiu Engage in Job Creation Projects

Sekino learns painting from kokeshi artisan Suzuki (left)

At workshops in “Akiu Craft Village” in Sendai’s Taihaku Ward, four people in their 20s and 30s have become apprentices. In order to address the lack of successors to their crafts, artisans have welcomed and supported the country’s emergency job creation situation.

They also hope to borrow the energy of these young people to revitalize efforts to increase the dwindling number of visitors who come to Akiu Craft Village.

“A Chance to Train a Successor”

Both the Ganguan Kokeshi Store and the Onkomaya Hiroi Edo tops workshop have acquired two apprentices. The Sendai tansu shop Kumandō and tea utensil Umoregi* shop also have taken on apprentices.

Sekino Akiko (age 39, Taihaku Ward), a part-time instructor at an elementary school in Sendai who has become an apprentice at Ganguan, began visiting Akiu Craft Village once or twice during months off starting three years ago. Sekino decided to become an apprentice, saying, “I would like to open a workshop and convey to children how wonderful wooden toys are.”

On the 7th of this month, Sekino began learning to paint. By using kokeshi artisan Suzuki Akira (52)’s models as reference, Sekino is starting to learn how to paint eyebrows, eyes, and noses. Sekino worried, “Starting the brushwork is incredibly difficult”; to which Suzuki responded “Your own feelings are passed through the brush and appear in the work,” communicating the importance of being aware of your own state of mind while working.

Sales are in a slump, and more than half of the 9 shops at the Craft Village have no apprentices. The partnership of artisans, alarmed by this, solicited the apprentices using project assistance from the government that can guarantee at most one year and five months’ wages for them.

“It takes a short while to come into one’s own as an artisan, about a year and a half,” said Hiroi, the head of the project partnership, “but it would be great if we had a chance to train the artisans of the future.”

In addition to taking those who come to Akiu Craft Village on tours, Sekino will be making new kokeshi characters and has an important position in building up interest in the Craft Village.

Dyeing and Weaving Atelier Tsuru is also recruiting apprentices now. People who would like to apply can do so through the job placement office or contact the Association representative at 022 (398) 2770.

*Translator’s note: This is an error. The Umoregi shop sells items crafted from bogwood and the Kobokusha Store sells tea utensils.

 

Advertisements

Newspaper article 新聞記事: Looking Forward to the Creation of “Akiu Products” 「秋保産」誕生楽しみ

Hiroi-sensei has appeared many times in Japanese newspapers. Below is a translation of an article entitled “Looking Forward to the Creation of “Akiu Products” that ran April 20, 2004 in the newspaper Kahoku shinpō. See the original Japanese article at the link below.

廣井先生は多数の新聞記事で特集されています。2004年4月20日、河北新報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: 記事はこちら

=====

Hiroi Michiaki makes kokeshi at Akiu Craft Village. He hopes to create a kokeshi forest.

Kahoku shinpō (April 20, 2004)

Looking Forward to the Creation of “Akiu Products”

Steady Work on Making a Forest for Kokeshi

Sendai City/Akiu Craft Village Collaboration

In an attempt to promote the local woodworking industry,  Sendai City is embarking on a “kokeshi forest”-making project in the town of Akiu’s Taihaku ward. In collaboration with Akiu Craft Village, painted maple and dogwood saplings will be planted; those trees will become the pulpwood for traditional craft goods. Their aim is to eventually have kokeshi that are entirely made from “Akiu Products,” and to facilitate that, a planting event, for which city residents can volunteer, is planned for May 5 [2004] .

Pulpwood trees to be planted this year, too, on May 5

Dogwood trees are native to the Akiu area, but the region is very marshy, making logging work very difficult. Because of this, Hiroi Michiaki (age 70), an artisan of Akiu Craft Village who makes kokeshi, is supplied with woodchips made by the lumber workers of Miyagi Prefecture’s Kunomori Ward for his work.

However, for a number of years lumber imports have been increasing and the amount of woodchip production has gone down; dogwood preservation, too, is becoming more difficult. Planning the pulpwood through their own supply efforts, Sendai and Akiu began the “kokeshi forest” project in May of last year. The city-owned forests near the Craft Village are roughly 6 hectares, and they plan to plant about 10,000 saplings over the course of 6 years, finishing in 2008. In one year, they have planted 1,400 dogwood trees.

It’s projected it will take roughly 15 to 20 years for the trees to grow into usable materials, but Hiroi-san has said, “If the next generation of artisans is able to use local dogwood to make kokeshi and other goods, I would be happy,” and is watching over the saplings affectionately.

The planting event, sponsored by the joint Sendai and Craft Village project, will be held on the 5th and is recruiting volunteers to help the artisans plant 1,500 saplings in the city-owned forest area. They also plan to hold cultural exchange events, with woodworking workshops and atelier tours.

The Sendai City Agriculture, Forestry, and Public Works Division stated, “Through the collaboration of the artisans and city residents on this forestation project, we hope to assure the continuation of traditional arts and to deepen  our residents’ understanding of forestry and woodworking traditions.”

There are 100 volunteer positions available on a  first come, first serve basis. To volunteer, contact the Sendai City Agriculture, Forestry, and Public Works Division’s Forestry Branch at 020 (214) 8264.

Newspaper article 新聞記事: Moved from Toshima, To Train in Akiu: Maeda from the Izu Islands

Hiroi-sensei and Maeda-san have appeared many times in Japanese newspapers. Below is a translation of an article entitled “Moved from Toshima, To Train in Akiu: Maeda from the Izu Islands” that ran January 10, 2008 in the newspaper Kahoku shinpō. See the original Japanese article at the link below.

廣井先生と前田さんは多数の新聞記事で特集されています。2008年1月10日、河北新報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: 記事はこちら

=====

Kahoku shinpō (January 10, 2008)

Maeda makes traditional artworks using reclaimed camellia wood, which is difficult to work with.

Moved from Toshima, To Train in Akiu: Maeda from the Izu Islands

“I want to become a woodworker using camellia wood in my hometown”

Akiu Craft Village in the Taihaku Ward of Sendai City and the Izu Islands near Tokyo are forming a closer bond. A man from Toshima has moved to Akiu and is training in traditional crafts. Given the opportunity to use reclaimed camellia wood from the Izu islands during his training at Akiu Craft Village, in the future, he hopes to return to his hometown as a woodworker specializing in their local camellia wood. For Akiu, they can also greatly increase the assortment of products they make, and their craftspeople have responded warmly, saying, “We this to become a bridge between Akiu and isolated islands of the Pacific.”

This man is Maeda Ryōji (26). While working a part-time job at a gas station in Sendai, he commutes to the “Komaya [Top Shop] Hiroi” workshop and is learning how to make tea cups, saucers, and tops.

The Hiroi workshop is managed by Hiroi Michiaki (74), one of the seven artisans of the Akiu Craft Village Work Association.

Maeda, after helping with his parent’s fishing business, worked at a company in Tokyo. In spring of 2004, he came to sell camellia oil at a product fair in Akiu Craft Village, where he by chance met Hiroi and developed an interest in traditional arts. In fall, he moved to Sendai.

Maeda says that his dream is “to master [everything], from methods of sawing to the making of ten types of edged tools using the lathe, then become the only woodworker in Toshima.”

In 2004, at the suggestion of local planner Aizawa Yū (51, Izumi Ward), the Work Association began a project to create new traditional craft pieces using reclaimed wood from Toshima. They received a donation of camellia wood from Toshima village and began their exchange selling kokeshi and accessory cases they made from it.

Compared with dogwood and other trees used for wooden toys, camellia has numerous hidden knots in the wood and becomes extremely hard when dried, making it difficult to work with. The products made from camellia have a particular texture and tint to them that give them a high-quality feeling.

Aizawa has said, “I thought we would join forces—Toshima, which had an issue with disposing of its old camellia wood, and the Craft Village, which was looking for a new challenge. We would be happy if Maeda became an independent craftsperson and inherited our traditional craft techniques.”

A map of Toshima 利島 off the coast of Tokyo and Yokohama.

“I don’t think there are any woodworkers in Japan that use camellia. I want to guide Maeda so he can readily become an independent artisan,” Hiroi said enthusiastically.

Toshima 利島 is located 140 km south of Tokyo. The population of the island, which spans about 8 km in circumference,  is around 300 people. More than half the island is covered with around 200,000 camellia trees, whichproduced about 14.5 kiloleters (3830.5 gallons) of camellia oil from their seeds a year in 2006–an estimated 60% of all of Japan’s camellia oil.

 

Making tops: Now

What does making wooden tops look like? How do they use the lathe to make this kind of art? Below we feature three videos of Hiroi-sensei and his apprentice, Maeda, at work, along with photographs of the present-day Hiroi workshop where Hiroi and Maeda have worked on the lathe throughout the years. The tops are made by placing a block of wood on the lathe and spinning it rapidly while cutting into the wood with metal tools. Paint is applied to the finished top while it spins on the lathe. Maeda has been Hiroi-sensei’s apprentice for over ten years and will inherit Hiroi-sensei’s shop.

You can listen to and read an interview with Hiroi on his own early apprenticeship here.

いまの独楽づくり

独楽づくりを見たことがありますか?どのように旋盤を使って独楽のような工芸品を作るのでしょうか?

廣井先生とお弟子さんの前田さんの仕事場での様子を撮影した3つのビデオ映像と、廣井先生と前田さんが一緒に何年も仕事をしてきた旋盤のある作業場でワークショップを行っている際の写真を載せています。独楽をつくるにはまず塊の木材を旋盤に固定して回転させ、金属の工具で削っていきます。独楽の形ができたところで、仕上げに旋盤で回転させながら色付けをしていきます。前田さんは廣井先生に弟子入りをして10年以上になり、廣井先生の店を受け継ぐことになっています。

廣井先生自身が弟子入りしていた時の話をインタビューしたときの音源とスクリプトはこちらのリンクでお楽しみいただけます。

About Akiu Craft Park


In this interview segment, Hiroi-sensei speaks briefly about the establishment of the Akiu Craft Park and the types of artisans who live and work there. You can visit the official webpage for Akiu at this link, which explains about the many artisans working there. The page also includes an option to translate it (via machine) into foreign languages.

Akiu Craft Park is about 35-40 minutes by bus from Sendai, Japan, located in the small town of Akiu. From Sendai station, board the bus going towards Kawasaki-machi (かわさきまち行) at the #63 bus stop, getting off at Akiu kōgei no sato (秋保工芸の里). This will be the purple Takeya tours bus, the タケヤ交通<秋保・川崎 仙台西部ライナ>. Some schedule changes may occur in winter months.

A scanned version of the Akiu Craft park pamphlet is uploaded in the Media section of our page.

===

[Segment 1, 00:30:07]

Paula Curtis: And let’s talk a little about Akiu. When did you start living at Akiu Craft Park?

Hiroi Michiaki: It was about twenty-five years ago.  That was from when it opened, but some years before that, about three years, ummm about twenty–eight years ago, I guess. I was asked “We’re going to make something like a craft village in Miyagi prefecture, so won’t you join us?” And many [artisans] came together and talked, came to the prefecture and talked. In the town it had gradually become difficult to do our work, you know? Because it was loud, or the garbage would pile up, it was said to be a nuisance, and so it became difficult to do our work, and the topic came up that we wanted leave the town and make a place where no one would say anything [about it] to us. And not just people doing the same occupation, but people of many different types of work joined us. And we negotiated with the prefecture and it slowly moved along. Akiu wasn’t the city of Sendai, it was the town of Akiu. And [we negotiated with] the town of Akiu, with Akiu and the prefecture, and there was a mountain, so we made it there, and it was said that we should all move there. There were about twenty, twenty of us at the beginning. And gradually we ended up with about twelve houses in the end, I think. We had the land for twelve homes, but in the end about eight were constructed and there were four open lots. And after one more person came, and that person bought and combined two lots. Even now there’s two left. Umm… in the end, when we opened—huh? Wait. Did Tsuruko-san buy it after we opened? There were eight houses when we opened, eight people. And two or three years later another house went up and we were nine houses. And now it’s nine houses. And it’s been the same ever since.

Paula: What kind of specialties did the other artists have?

Hiroi: Umm… ah, it’s easiest to understand if you look at the pamphlet… You’ll see here. Ahh this is a kokeshi maker. The one next door to here. And this is us. And this is that one.

[Segment 2, 00:00:00]

Hiroi: These are tea ceremony utensils. He makes tea ceremony utensils. And then there’s– like the one over there, the cabinet next to the toilet– Sendai [style] cabinets. Next to [the tea ceremony person] there’s a man who does this carving. Across from him is the woman who came later [after we set up Akiu Craft village], who does textiles. She joined us after. And next to her of course is a kokeshi maker. That person is originally from Akiu and made kokeshi in Akiu. He’s the only person originally from here.

And next to him is a bogwood [carver], and he’s also now the only person in the entire country [who has that skill]. He’s called a “bogwood artisan” [umoregi saiku]. This is something particular to Sendai… there’s something called “brown coal” (lignite) that [is formed] before it becomes coal, and wood that is buried in and mixes with that brown coal– it comes from the brown coal class [of materials]– what should I call it? It’s more or less this is wood that has been buried and carbonized. If you carve it into things it’s gorgeous, so it’s a famous thing from Sendai, and there used to be a number of artisans [who carved bogwood], but now there’s only one.

And this [other] one is next to him, and he’s a, you know, sensei of traditional kokeshi. When I was taught [kokeshi making] it was Wagatsuma-san. Is he in this area now? So, for people of the same craft it’s two houses, two kokeshi makers, or is it three? Ahh. There’s three doing kokeshi. Oh, I also did it, so it’s four. Well, at any rate there’s a lot of kokeshi makers. Mm. Other than the kokeshi makers there’s one, two, three, four houses. Mm five? And there were four places that did kokeshi, but not just kokeshi but other pieces that were made using the lathe, well, including Edo tops, and there were four of them. And that’s nine.

秋保工芸の里について

今回のインタビューでは、廣井先生が秋保工芸の里ができた経緯や工芸の里に住みモノづくりをしている職人たちについて触れている。秋保工芸の里の公式ウェブサイトはこちらのリンクから。ウェブサイトは(機械による)翻訳機能もついており各言語での閲覧も可能。

秋保工芸の里は宮城県の仙台市からバスで35〜40分ほど離れた小さな町、秋保にある。仙台駅からは63番のバス停で、かわさきまち行に乗り、秋保工芸の里で下車。タケヤ交通<秋保・川崎 仙台西部ライナー> 冬季に関しては時刻表に変動あり。

秋保工芸の里のパンフレットはメディアのページで閲覧できる。

===

[Segment 1, 00:30:07]

ポーラ・カーティス:では、少し、あのう、秋保についての、あのう、話に入りますが、あのう、いつ秋保工芸の里に住むことになりましたか。

廣井道顕:ちょうど二十五年前。ここが、オープンしたですけど、その何年前、三年ぐらい前だから、うんんと今から二十、八ヵ年前、八年ぐらい前かな。あの今度うんと、宮城、県で、あのう、こういう工芸の里みたいなのを作るから、一緒に行かないかって声をかけてもらって。で色々集まって話して、で県に行って話して。であのう街中でだんだんあのう、仕事がやりにくくなってきたんですよね。あのう、うるさいとか、ゴミが立つからとかって、公害だ何だって言われて、仕事がだんだんやりにくくなってて、何とかこう、そういう街中から出て、誰にも何も言われない場所を作りたいなっていう話で。であのう、同じ同業ばかりでなくて、色んな異業種の人たちとも一緒になって。ほんで県に交渉して、ではっていうことで、この秋保、まだ仙台市でなかったんですね、秋保は秋保で、秋保町だったんですけど。で秋保町、秋保と、それから県の、山があるから、でそこを、作って、そこにあのうみんな移るように、したらいいんじゃないかっていうことで。最初二十、二十人ぐらいいたんですよ。で、だんだんだんだん煮詰まってって、最終的に、ええ十二件になったのかな。で順で十二ヶ所土地作ったんけど、結果、入ったのが、うーんと八軒。で空いている場所が四ヶ所あって、で後から、一人、入ってきて、その一人の人が二ヶ所まとめて買って。で今も二ヶ所残ってるんですけど。うーん、で結果的に、オープンした時は、うん?待てよ。オープンの後でツルコさんが買ったのか。オープンした時は八軒だったんですね、八人だったのね。それから二年か、三年ぐらいして一軒入って九軒になった。今九軒で。そのままずっと今も続いてるんですけど。

ポーラ:どのような専門ですか。

廣井:ええと、うんだから、あれ、パンフレット見ると一番分かりいい・・・ここで分る。あぁこれがこけし屋さん。こっちの隣。で、ここはうちね。でこれがそっちの。

[Segment 2, 00:00:00]

廣井:これはあのお茶の道具。茶道具を作っている人なんですけど。あとそれからそっちの向かいの・・・トイレの脇が箪笥、仙台箪笥。で、その隣がこの彫刻、やっている人で。その向かいっ側の人がこれ後から入ってきた織物をやってる人。この人が後から入ってきたんですけど。でその隣がやっぱりこけし屋さん。この人は元々 秋保の人で。で秋保でこけしを作って、いた人なんですよね。で地元の人、ただ一人なんですけど。

で後はその隣がこれ埋もれ木って、これもあの、もう全国でただ一人になっちゃったんです。埋もれ木細工っていうの、やっている人なんですけど。これ仙台独特のもので、あのう・・・石炭になる前に亜炭というのがあって、その亜炭にまざって埋もれ木っていう、亜炭層から出てきた、あのう、なんというかな。炭化したような、要するに埋もれている木なんですけど。それ削ってこうやるとすごく素晴らしいのができるので。で仙台の名物で、何人も職人さんいたんですけど今たった一人になっちゃってんの。

で、これ、これがその隣で、これがほら、あのう、伝統こけしの先生。私が教わった先生のところ、我妻さんってね。でこの近辺なのか、今。だからあのう、同業の方は二軒、こけし屋さん・・・あ二軒、三軒か。あぁ。こけしやってた人は三軒、あぁ俺もやってたから四軒か。ま、こけし屋さんが多いね。うん。こけし屋さん以外が一店、二店、三軒、四軒。んー五軒か。でこけしやってた 、こけしばかりでなく、こういう轆轤っていうんで色々、ま江戸独楽も含めてですけど、そういうのが四軒で。で九軒ですね。