Tag Archives: Japan

Media Post: Hiroi selling his tops

The photos below show Hiroi-sensei, Janell, and Mrs. Hiroi  selling tops at a special event held in a local department store during the New Year’s holiday.

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友情の輪

宣教師時代に里帰りした際のできごとや、日本でできた友人について、そして廣井先生との特別な絆について語ったインタビュー

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マリナ・スーティ: 故郷のアメリカにいるご家族やアジアにいる親しいお友達とはどうやって連絡を取っていましたか?

ジャネル・ランディス: そうなの。私がいたあの頃は電子メールなんてなかった…手紙よね。母は書くのが上手だったし、妹も私も未だになんだけど、パソコンを持っていないの。妹は手紙に絶大な信頼をおいてるから妹には手紙を書かないといけないわ。それで書くのが上達するわけじゃないけれど。ペンの黒インクよりも修正液の白の方がたくさん使うわ。まぁとにかく、あの時は主に手紙で家族とやりとりをしていたわね。たまに電話もしたけれど、当時は電話するのに日本からインドへかけて…電話をかけるための予約をインド人に取り付けないといけなかったから、たくさん掛けることはできなかったの。しかも時々かからないこともあったから。でも日本はあの頃、産業技術が発達してきてた時期で…FAXがあったわ。未だにFAXを持ってる宣教師って結構いるの、楽に連絡を取れる手段だから。でも今の時代はみんなと同じようにインターネットよね。おそらく、それでも、インターネットなしで日本と連絡を取れるからFAXを未だに持っている宣教師達はかなりいると思う。

マリナ: アメリカへ里帰りする機会は多かったですか?前に言っていたみたいにー

ジャネル: えぇ。毎年、そうね1ヶ月くらい、日本にいる人たちが里帰りできる制度があったわ。私は5年いて1年か9か月の休暇があった。私は教師だったから一年中日本にいることはなかったのよね。4月から3月までの年度内いつでも代理の先生がいたし。私の里帰りは3ヶ月ごと、じゃなくて3年ごとに3ヶ月だったわ。ホーム・アサインメント(※1)…前は休暇という言い方をしていたけれど最近ではホーム・アサインメントと呼び方を変えたのよね。ホーム・アサインメントの3分の1は自分の余暇。3分の1…3分の2は委員の仕事をしたわ。だから里帰り中には外に出ることが多かった。できる時には自分で運転したものよ。だって自分の車がないときって、行く場所はドライバー次第で、同じ話を何度もしないといけないし。 ほら、誰かの朝食と誰か目的地を運転中の話で、[いつも同じの質問を聞かれたことは]滑稽な気分になったりするでしょ。色んな地域に行くんだけど同じ質問をしてくるから、テープ・レコーダーで返事を録音して再生したかったわよ。でも何度も戻る機会があって、行ったことある地域に割り当てられた。ペンシルバニアでは福音改革派がメジャーでキリスト連合教会ともコネクションがたくさんあった。南東部協議会、北東部協議会、中央協議会、西部協議会。地域ごとにもいくつか…オハイオには協議会もあったけど組合もあったわ。ニューイングランドの方には何かあれば頼れる人もいた。一泊してディナーとランチを取るだけじゃなくて、3日間同じところで過ごして同じ教会に属してる色んなグループの人たちと話せる機会があったの。一度会ったら、それで「さよなら」ってわけじゃなくてね、あらそういえば、日本からの宣教師がいたわ、彼女の名前なんだったかしら。コネチカット州ではグループに入っていくのが少し難しいなと思った、イタリア系の人がコネチカット州の協議会長をしてて、コネチカット・マフィアと呼ばれていたの。私の日程表を送ってきた人もイタリア系の人だったし。それでも、デピュテーション(※2)のために来た宣教師の扱いがうまかったわね。デピュテーションは宣教師の仕事の一つね。教会や宣教師派遣委員会から有給で派遣されて自分の経験を伝える機会がもてるのよ。一度新たに宣教師となる人についての記事か何かを書いたことがあったわ。

(※1 ホーム・アサインメント…宣教師が自国(=ホーム)でデピュテーションなどのアサインメント(=任務・仕事)をする。休暇と併せて里帰りをする)

(※2 デピュテーション…宣教師が教会に訪問して自分たちの活動の報告や働きの紹介をすること)

マリナ: マリナ:えぇと、その。日本にいたときのご友人やお知り合いはみんな日本人でしたか。もしくはみんな外国人か、両方同じくらいなのか。

ジャネル: 最初のうちは同じ配属先の宣教師と仲良くしていたけど…何年も過ごして、語学学校から戻ってからは友達のほとんどが日本人だったわね、宣教師仲間がそれと共ににどんどん減っていったわ。

最後の何年かは、宣教師が3人しかいなくなってた。音楽の先生と他に…もう一人の男性。それと同じ部署にいた女性。でも、彼女は大学にしかいなくて私は中高等学校にいたけど、彼女が病気になって働けなくなってしまったの。私はその時パートタイムだった。2006年が宮城の120周年記念で、私たちが日本に帰る、というか訪問するための資金を学校側が出してくれて行った時に音楽の先生と一緒になってね。日本訪問から戻ってすぐにその彼はカリフォルニアで亡くなってしまった。だから、宮城時代の3人の宣教師のうち生きているのは私だけ。

宣教師の奥さんの誰かが男子校で働いていると思う。ついに中学校を手伝うようになったのよ。彼女は長いこと宣教師委員会から外されていたの。すごく腹立たしかったわ。だって彼女がやってきたホスピスでの頑張りがやっと日本で受け入れられてきたところだったのに。ついに実現するってところで、宣教師委員会は彼女がどの組織にも属していないと言い出したの。4人も子どもを育てて、子どもも彼女も地域に根差しているのに。でも今では中学校で教師をしているから嬉しいわ。でも学校から直接お給料が支払われているから宣教師のリストに彼女の名前はないの。

あと若い子が一人いたわね。でも私たちの宣教師委員会では2人の宣教師をサポートしていて2人とも前任宣教師の子どもだった。1人は京都に、あと1人が仙台だけど、家族がいる関西にほとんどはいるみたいね。

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。いいわ。

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。

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。

International Friendships

In this post, Janell Landis describes visits home during her time as a missionary, her friends in Japan, and her special relationship with her teacher, Hiroi-sensei.

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Malina Suity [7:20]: How did you communicate with your family back home in the U.S. or any people you might consider to be family in Asia?

Janell Landis: Yes. At that time there was no email when I was…with letters. My mother was very good at writing and my younger sister still, we don’t, neither of us have a computer. She’s very faithful in writing to me so I have to write to her. I’m not getting very good at writing anymore. I’m using white out more than I’m using ink [laughs]. But anyway, I had had communications with my family mainly through letters. There were occasional phone calls, but not many, because there were times when phone calls between India and Japan where you had to make a…Indians had to make a reservation to call me. And the calls wouldn’t go through sometimes. But, in Japan, when I was uh, when they were getting into the technical age..faxes. You can still see in the list of missionaries there many of them still have the fax because that was the connection that made it easy to contact somebody. But now I think they’re in the internet just like we are. Probably, but many of the missionaries still have a fax, because then they can contact the Japanese without the internet.

Malina: Did you often get chances to return to the U.S. you mentioned–

Janell: Yes. Our board had a system, every year in Japan um, for every year you’d get a month or something like. I had five years and then one years furlough or nine months. Because I was a teacher sometimes I didn’t stay the whole year. I would go and there would be somebody to replace me in that school year from April to March of the next year. But I also went home every three months, I mean every three years for three months. One home assignment–they used to call them furloughs but in more recent years they changed it to home assignment. One third of the time was for yourself. One third was–two thirds for the board. And so when I was home in the United States I was often on the road. And when I could I’d drive myself. Because when I didn’t have a car you’re at the mercy of the place you’re going to and you have to tell the same story five times. You know, somebody’s breakfast and somebody drove you there and and it became almost humorous. I would have liked to have a tape recorder and just play it for them because they ask the same questions in various areas. But I had many times I came back and I was assigned to the same areas. In Pennsylvania, the E&R Church was big and the United Church has a lot of contacts in Pennsylvania. The Southeast Conference,  the Northeast Conference, the Central Conference, and the West Conference. And then some places it was just…in Ohio it was a conference but then it had associations. And up in New England I had some very helpful contacts there. Not just one overnight and a supper there and a lunch there, but I’d be in at one place for three nights and doing various groups in the same church for several times. And I’d see people more often than just once because, ‘Oh yeah we had a missionary from Japan, what was her name?” Kind of was harder there in Connecticut to get into that group because the one visit I had there with what they called the Connecticut mafia because the Connecticut chairman was of Italian background and then this man who sent me my schedule was of Italian background. But they were very good at using the missionary who was there for what we called deputation and that was part of being a missionary. Being able to be sent and paid for by the church or the mission board for visiting and having a chance to share. I had some articles and stuff that talked about the missionary coming.

Malina: Um, what, um. Were your acquaintances and friends in Japan mostly Japanese people or mostly foreigners or was it a mix of the two?  

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[14:20]

Janell: I think in the beginning my friendships were mainly the missionaries that were aligned with…but as the years went on and I came back from language school my friends were mostly Japanese and the number of missionaries became less and less too.

In the last couple years, there were only three of us missionaries. The music teacher and another–a man. And a woman who was in the same department. But I, for some of that she was only in the college and I was in the Junior-Senior High, but then she became ill and couldn’t work and I was still part time then. And the music teacher we were together in 2006 for Miyagi’s 120th birthday and the school paid for our coming home to Japan, I mean coming back to Japan. And um then shortly after he came back from that visit he died in California. So, I’m the only living one that was in that Miyagi period where [there were] the three missionaries.

I think there’s one of the wives of a missionary who’s serving the men’s school. His wife is finally helping in the Junior High. She was dropped from the mission board for a while and that made me very angry. Because she was just getting to the point where her work with hospice was being taken up in Japan. And just before that got off the board, the mission board said she wasn’t connected to any organization. She raised four kids there and they were all in the neighborhood and she had neighborhood children in her home. But now she’s teaching in the Junior High and I’m glad for that. But she’s not listed as a missionary because her salary is coming from the school.

And I think there’s another young person there too. But our mission board is down to supporting two missionaries and they’re both children of former missionaries. One in Kyoto and one, one was in Sendai but he’s going on with his family to the Kansai area too. 

Malina: So, now I think we’re going to shift over to, um your 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.

[31:28] And many times his wife and I were the only women, and 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 college and 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 table 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. 

 

Media post メディアポスト: Hiroi & co at Shimin Matsuri 市民まつりでの廣井先生たち

Hiroi-sensei and his apprentices participated in many local community events. Below are photos of them selling their top and kokeshi products at Sendai’s Shimin Matsuri, a local festival, in the 1980s.

廣井先生と弟子がよくコミュニティーのエベントに参加していた。以下の写真で、廣井先生たちが80年代の仙台市民まつりで独楽・こけしなどを売っている。

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Media Post メディアポスト: Hiroi at Work 働く廣井先生

Creating Edogoma involves careful work within the workshop. Hiroi-sensei creates his own tools and spends hours at the lathe carving and painting his tops. The following photos show Hiroi-sensei at work in his small workshop at the front of his store and home in Akiu Craft Village.

江戸独楽の製作には工房での慎重な作業が求められる。廣井先生は自作の道具と旋盤を使い、何時間もかけて独楽を削り出して色付けする。秋保工芸の里にある独楽店の前には、廣井先生の自宅兼工房がある。こちらは小さな工房で働く廣井先生の写真である。

ジャネルの独楽: Part 1

ジャネルが弟子入りしている間、廣井氏はジャネルの生まれ育った場所と新しい故郷である日本の芸術・文化を、日本の伝統工芸を通して表現できるようにと、アメリカの民俗文化や伝承をテーマにした独楽も作ってみるよう勧めた。以下の写真は1980年代からジャネルが作った独楽です。

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.

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[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。

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[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。

 

Hiroi and Janell’s First Meeting and Apprenticeship

In this interview segment, Hiroi-sensei describes his first time meeting Janell on a New Year’s television broadcast in Sendai. He discusses the beginning of their friendship and the start of her training with him as a top-making apprentice.

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[25:42]

Paula: Was the attitude towards America and the West different in Sendai than in Tokyo?

Hiroi: No, in Tokyo, Americans… well, in Tokyo I didn’t meet any Americans. It was after I came to Sendai [that I did]. Because it was after the war. Like I said before, because I was living in the mountains without knowing the war ended. So I didn’t meet any Americans in Tokyo, and after the war, I was in Sendai. And in particular, [it was only] after I met Landis-sensei that I became close to Americans.

Paula: Why was it that your experience getting to know Americans—well, was that the first time? Or, did you have other American friends?

Hiroi: Ahh… there weren’t any others. I had met a few [Americans]. Umm… to make something for them, that is. Mm, that was about it, and I can’t really say that I became close to them. Even if I wanted to become friends with them I couldn’t. And also, at that time I was still poor, and I was putting all my effort into making a living. Mm, Americans were like an unattainable goal, hahaha. They’d do something and I’d be like “Whoaaa, amazing!” And when I met Landis-sensei, it was because we had a chance [to meet] on a television [show].

Photo - 016-01 [edit 1]
Hiroi and Janell on a television broadcast together.
Paula: Did you often introduce those Edo tops on that television program?

Hiroi: Yes, yes. I often did it.

Paula: Was that an NHK program?

Hiroi: I did it on NHK, too, and all of the Sendai broadcasting stations. I did all of them. I did broadcasts for the entire country on NHK and also local ones. I’ve done a lot of local shows and NHK shows, too. Also Tohoku Broadcasting. Mmm, even now I’m doing Miyagi Television’s OH! Bandesu program. They let me do that TV show a number of times. Even now I’m good friends with a man named Wakigaya-san from Miyagi Television, and Amano-san from Tohoku Broadcasting, he was a producer, I think. And Amano’s wife was a student of Landis-sensei. That was the relationship. And he said, “Next time I’ll introduce you to an American.” And then because there was free time, on a New Year’s TV program, this was a New Year’s TV program. And [Landis-sensei] and I did it together, and they told us they’d introduce us. Did we meet before that? Before the television show… hmmm… before the television show… ah, I had heard of her. Because they said they would introduce us, and we didn’t have a chance [before that]. And [they said] they’d have us do [the TV show] together. Mm, it was from that time.

[29:22]

Paula: What sort of television show was it?

Hiroi: It was a New Year’s show, and, err… what kind of things did we do? In any case it was things that were good luck for the New Year, and it was a show that also did Edo tops… I think. I don’t remember in detail what we did. What I remember is that the announcer kept getting things wrong and was corrected a lot. (laughs) I think Landis-sensei knew the whole time. Heh heh. We talked about it a lot.

Paula: This will go into [the topic of] Landis-san [again], but could you talk a bit about the first time you met her?

Hiroi: I think the first time I met Landis-sensei was when [we] were on television. I feel like I might have met her before that, but maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember that time well. The first… thing I remember is that time on TV, I think. But I might have met her before that. I don’t remember when that television show aired.

Anyway, she was a teacher at Miyagi Gakuin, and an American who was fluent in Japanese. And she had an interest in [things like tops], so [Amano-san] said he’d bring her next time. I heard this from the show’s producer, Amano-san. After that we met on the television show, which I saw in a photograph first. I feel like we met before that, but probably that was our first meeting. I don’t clearly remember that time. Anyway, it was around that time. And she came to my home, and was really happy [to see the tops]. And that was the first time she said she wanted to make them herself. She said “Please teach me,” so I taught her. Umm yeah that’s about right. It’s hard to remember. But she really made a lot of things, Landis-sensei did.

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah. That wagon, she made that wagon thing.

Hiroi: Yeah. What was interesting at that time was–

Mrs. Hiroi: The wagon.

Hiroi: Umm, yeah. It was a wagon, a covered wagon from the pioneering times like those you see in Western films. But attached to the wagon, I thought they were horses, but Landis-sensei put oxen. I said “Shouldn’t they be horses, not oxen?” and she said, “No, they’re really oxen.” When I said “Why?”, and she said that horses can go far but they get tired easily. Oxen were slow, but they had stamina for no matter how far they go, and so for going [that far], actually it’s not a carriage but an ox cart. And so she attached oxen to the covered wagon. Mm, even now, it’s amazing. That she made that. She made so many things. Later she used the lathe by herself, and that was Karahiro-chō, right?

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah.

Hiroi: There we made a cabin, a little cabin where we worked, and [made tops] there for a while. I think she [made tops] until she went back to America.

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah.

Hiroi: Yeah, that’s it. She returned to America and sent her lathe there. And she said, “After I return to America I’ll [make tops] there, too,” and I said “No, you won’t remember the way to make the tools, won’t it be impossible?” and she said “No, I’ll be fine, I have friends who are skilled with machinery and cutlery, so if I ask them [when I have a problem,] I’ll get by somehow and it’ll be fine.” And she sent her lathe to America. When I asked some time ago that was the case.

Paula: Umm–

Hiroi: And– huh? I think she [worked on the lathe] a little in America. There are lathes in America, too, but they work a little different. And Americans find Japan’s lathes unusual, so they come to see them. Umm, actually in America, there’s a lathe association of some kind, something like a world lathe association. And there’s number of members and an association. And the president… she’s in a group that makes naruko kokeshi, and I invited the American lathe association president and her husband, the couple, and they came here. I think the wife was the president and her husband was the vice president. And there was a [cultural] exchange with the artisans who made naruko kokeshi. On their way back they stopped by here. And at that time they made these teeny tiny tops. They were tops about this big, they had become their specialty. And I thought “Man, I’ve been defeated!” and made even smaller ones. Ones this small. And I showed them to them and they said “Nope, I’ve lost!” Heh heh heh heh heh. I was like, “I wonnnnn!” Hahahaha. They burst out laughing and we shook hands. It was great fun to experience.

[21:34]

Paula: Were you hesitant to take on Janell as an apprentice? Did you have any concerns?

Hiroi: No, I didn’t really have any concerns. Mm. Actually, I thought, she’s not Japanese, and it would be wonderful if an American learned [how to make tops]. And Landis-sensei was the one. And she carved a kokeshi by hand herself, and showed me that, too. And said that she definitely wanted to carve using a lathe. And right away, on that very day, she used the lathe. And she learned a lot of things carving, but, we didn’t understand each other here and there. And it was funny, when it was a problem she’d go, “I don’t understand because I’m an American.” Heh heh heh heh. Everyone would give big belly laughs. Heh heh heh.

Paula: Was that the first time you had a foreign apprentice?

Hiroi: Yeah, that was the first time. Heh heh heh. Yeah.