News Letter

News Letter

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No 136

Dear Customers and FriendsHello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News LetterNo.136.Last Friday I went to Kanazawa to visit urushi artisan's workshop.I left our office at 6 a.m. after listing antique items and fabrics. FromOsaka station I got Thunderbird Express, and reached Kanazawa at about9:30 a.m. Watanabe san was waiting just out of the ticket wicket, with full smile.Two weeks ago, I met him at a department store in Osaka. I was lookingat beautiful urushi wares, and he spoke to me that he made those items.His urushi wares were simple and strong atmosphere, and has beautifuldeep natural urushi surface. In addition they have beautiful grainpattern beyond the urushi coat. At a glance I came to like his work andwished to introduce at our site. I asked some questions, and soon I cameto know he is a genuine ARTISAN, and simply hopes to make good items. Hesaid that all woods are alive and beautiful itself, and he doesn'(Bt wantto add too much artificial decoration. His father was'kiji-shi'(B, anartisan who carves the wood to table wares'(B shapes with 'rokuro'(Bwheel.To complete making urushi ware, makie-shi ( makie painter) and otherartisan do their work on their 'kiji'(B (wooden basis) and products arecompleted. Among the whole procedure, kiji-shi'(Bs work is most severeand most unprofitable. But kiji-shi knows most about wood and carvingdetermines the quality of urushi product. He learned how to make kijifrom his father, and later learned about urushi by himself. I asked himto let us offer his items in our site, and he said to be willing to doso.Kanazawa city is one of the most beautiful castle town, and called `Shou-Kyoto'(B. 'Shou'(B means small. It means Kanazawa has beautiful oldcityscape and rich traditions of art and crafts like Kyoto. It is famousfor Kaga Yuzen, beaten gold, Kutani pottery and others. Kenroku en issaid to be the one of most beautiful garden in Japan. This time, Ididn't have enough time to take a walk in the city, but I still rememberthe'(Bwonderful day when I walked around Kanazawa almost 15 years ago.Watanabe san put me in this car, and drove into the mountain towards west.His workshop is in the Fukumitsu, approx 20km west from Kanazawa. Fukumitsu is small and old town with large rice paddy and old people. Mostfamous sightseeing spot is the house of Shiko Munakata, an outstanding printmaker. Before he became famous, wealthy people in Fukumitsu supportedhis life. Watanabe san said he knew one of his major patron, whose housealso became reference library and sightseeing spots. When Watanabe sanwas a boy, he knew Shiko Munakata but he seemed to be only a difficultman, and Watanabe san never knew he was such an admirable person. Shiko'(Bs house is very interesting. On the walls of bed room and toilet (also on the ceiling of toilet ), very large pictures are drawn. Before heowned this house, he rent a house in Fukumitsu. Shiko couldn'(Btstop drawing pictures on walls of houses, and again and again his wifehad to apologize the house owners and move. At last no one in Fukumitsuoffered him to rent a house. Shiko had to be delight when he owned hishouse, and had walls which he could freely draw as he wanted. All suchpictures were wiped out or threw out except his house'(Bs ones, before hebecame famous. People who did so must regret now ! They wiped out thevaluable artwork without knowing how valuable they were.
He also drove me to Gokashoyama. It is on 17th March, and Osaka was almost in early spring. But we went over a mountain to Gokasyoyama, I wasextremely astonished to see exceptionally thick layer of snow! Besidesthe driving roadways, thickness is nearly 2 meters. Gokashoyama is inthe mountains, and snows heavily. In olden times people in Gokashoyamacouldn'(Bt come out to town for its heavy snow in winter season. FleeingHeike warriors were said to build these villages in isolation from thesociety. To live in the very heavy snow, people built unique housecalled Gasho-zukuri'(B. It has three or four floors tall house, with verythick straw roof. Roof is very steep, and under the hem, wide water poolis made to melt the snow. and Shirakawago are famous for its Gosho-zukuri houses ( theywere built in the ending Edo Priod( 1603-1867) or early Meiji period(1868-1912),and recently registered as a World Heritage Site.I touched the pile of snow. And Watabane san laughed and said, ' I can'(Btbelieve there are people who want to touch snow purposely'(B. And he told mehow the people in his district struggle against heavy snow.Especially for the old people, how the snow removing take too much work,how danger it is , and how expensive to hire persons for removing. Hepointed a house, whose roof is broken in the hem and support logs areadded. He said house owner had to be shamed for failing removing.Watanabe san says, this severity of the winter had to make this district as urushi ware product center. Long winter locked in heavy snow drovepeople to making various handicrafts like urushi. In the district urushiwood were abundance, and in his father'(Bs age there remained some urushicollectors. And he says this tough weather cultivates good wood. 'Keyaki'(B (zelkova)in this district has more thick and beautiful grains, compared to otherdistricts'(B zelkova.
In his work shop, he showed me his incredible 'rokuro'(B work. He has lotsof good wood stocks, which he inherited from his father. He touchesturning wood with a gear lightly, turning wood changes its form perceptively.With using original gages, he makes the precisely same form at incrediblespeed. He says he has absolute aplomb about speed and preciseness of his rokuro'(B work. He coats his kiji with natural urushi. He coats all kijimore than several times ! He coats, drys and polishes, and repeats thismethod several times. His urushi surface has very deep, clear and characteristicurushi colors. His origin is kiji-shi so beyond the urushi coat, grains ofzelkova, chestnut or other woods can be seen. To make wood strong hesometimes add fabrics 'nunome'(B) on the hems and bottom and coatedwith urushi. Nunome also gives interesting accent on the wares. Hedoesn'(Bt agree, but I think he also has good design sense.specially his 'Katakuchi-bachi'(B(lipped bowl) has great charm - bold chiselbut surface, round rokuro bottom and inside has strong and exotic atmosphere,and must be good sake pitcher. I think his product can be put more expensive prices same as other popularurushi Artists(not Artisan). But he says he wants to please customers byoffering genuine urushi wares at moderate prices, and keep to make moreitems with his father'(Bs stocks.
His items will come this week, and we hope to list them at our Tour J Artisansite in next week. All of his items are unique and if they are sold, we mustwait for a long time. If you are interested in Watanabe san'(Bs urushi work,please don'(Bt miss when we start listing.
Today we will list men's kimono, haori karinui fabric, chirimen bag, antique items and others. We are very happy if you could check our new listing items.

Ichiro & Yuka WadaKimono Flea Market "ICHIROYA"
e-mail: info@ichiroya.comaddress: Asia-shoji Bldg.301 1841-1 Nishi 1 chome Wakamatsu cho Tondabayashi city Osaka 584-0025 JAPANTEL&FAX ****( international number ) - 81-721-23-5446


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