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  • Hello World!

  • We're in Echizen, which is a 75 minute train ride from Japan's former captial: Kyoto.

  • The thing about Kyoto nowadays, is there's a ton of tourists.

  • It's for good reason, it's a mesmerizing place.

  • But yeah, lots of people.

  • Over in Echizen, you can get hands-on experience with traditional Japanese culture...

  • without the crowds.

  • Echizen is famous for a few things.

  • Cabinets, or Echizen Tansu.

  • Paper, or Echizen Washi.

  • Or Knvies, Echizen Uchihamono.

  • These are all traditional Japanese crafts.

  • And to tell the truth, I'm not much of an arts and crafts guy.

  • I appreciate art work,

  • but I'm much more a sucker for practicality.

  • So that's why when I saw the Echizen Tansu, the cabinets,

  • I was surprised that they had a lot of it.

  • The biggest one was that some of these were meant to be mobile.

  • As in, if there was a fire, you'd push or pull these away.

  • I think this was something the merchant class had,

  • so think records and money.

  • And speaking of money, some even had a built in abacus.

  • The real fun things about these though,

  • were the secret ways to open them up,

  • as well as the hidden compartments.

  • This, by the way, is the not so secret compartment for your katana.

  • The first shokunin we visited was a master of Echizen Tansu.

  • I find the word 'shokunin' difficult to translate,

  • because in English people often say artisan, or sometimes craftsperson.

  • But it's probably more akin to a master.

  • Like you can't just make a few cabinets and call yourself a shokunin.

  • After the Meiji period, people stopped making these parts, so I have to do it on my own.

  • Ah, it's tough to make those little ones.

  • I'm copying what was made around 1712.

  • Usually the front is good,

  • but I make the back good as well.

  • If you see the back and front, you'll understand if it's a good "tansu" (cabinet) or not.

  • I make anything.

  • It's not only cabinets.

  • - What do you make beside cabinets now? - Anything.

  • - Anything? Like business card holders? - Small things like business card holders, yeah.

  • I will cut here.

  • I can make anything.

  • I make anything.

  • I started working at 18 after I finished school.

  • I've been doing this since 18, but I can't make good things (he said sarcastically).

  • Remember how I talked about the crowds of people in Kyoto?

  • So this is a major shrine in Echizen called Otaki Jinja.

  • No one was there.

  • This shrine was orginally a Buddhist temple in the Edo period.

  • But in the Meiji period, became a Shinto shrine.

  • As such, this place has a mix of both Buddhist and Shinto design elements.

  • It's such a tranquil and gorgeous place.

  • So, these mobile shrines are what kami can ride in.

  • And twice a year, they are run up the mountain behind the shrine during the washi matsuri, or paper festival.

  • Last year in 2018 was there 1300th time doing the festival.

  • 1300 years, wow!

  • The guide was telling me that people carrying the shrines can have specific sores on their shoulders from the weight,

  • which is called 'mikoshi dako'.

  • These are pictures I found online,

  • so I'm fairly sure these are more extreme examples of it,

  • but yeah, people do get calluses on their shoulders from carrying these heavy, heavy portable shrines.

  • The nice thing about visiting the shrine during non-festival time,

  • is that you can really spend your time looking at the details.

  • Right around the shrine is the heart of the washi, or paper, production in Echizen.

  • Nowadays, this factory is how paper is made on mass.

  • It was quite neat to see all the machinery in action.

  • But what I think most people come for is the handmade paper.

  • Echizen Washi.

  • Like the cabinets, paper was something I thought I would have little interest in,

  • as I've tried to digitize everything I can in my life.

  • Yet, seeing what these shokunin can do with paper is quite impressive.

  • We only use the skin of Kozo, Mitsumata, and Gampi.

  • And in Echizen we use Hemp.

  • This is boiled Kozo.

  • When you put it in water,

  • it expands the fibre,

  • making it easier to remove the impurities.

  • Once you remove the impurities, you bring it here,

  • and you hit it to loosen the fibres.

  • Traditionally, they hit the fibres, but nowadays, they can use a machine to do it.

  • If you use the machine, the beater, you only need 30 minutes of hitting.

  • But if you're only going to do the manual way, it can take half a day.

  • Little by little the fibre gets softer and loosened up.

  • And then...

  • Can you see the fibre?

  • It's so small!

  • It looks small, but in the paper it's long.

  • Kozo, because the fibres are long,

  • makes strong paper when the fibres mesh together.

  • To get this point it takes hours and hours.

  • The people in the olden days were great...

  • in the time of no electricity.

  • Inside there is Echizen water, which I think is very good water.

  • The fibres I hit are mixed in here with the water.

  • And we add another ingredient, which is "neri" (glue)

  • This glue comes from the roots of the 'tororoaoi' plant

  • This is the root.

  • You put the wet papers together.

  • You lay it down here.

  • After this you put pressure on (the paper).

  • Using a press like this

  • you extrude the water.

  • One by one on a piece of wood...

  • you dry them here.

  • The special thing (about Echizen Washi), is big size paper.

  • I have just made a paper all by myself, but...

  • this was made by 4 people with a big paper making tool.

  • Many people can get together to make massive tapestries like this.

  • They can also make fusuma,

  • which are the sliding doors found in traditional Japanese homes.

  • When I (first) saw Echizen washi, there were so many kinds.

  • Not only one kind.

  • So many materials, sizes, designs...

  • so I entered this field because I wanted to learn how to do it.

  • To learn how to make it, I've been working this job for more than 20 years.

  • Then I finally found I like this one simple kozo paper.

  • There is a challenge spirit among washi craftspeople in Echizen.

  • If you have an ideal paper in your mind,

  • come here to consult with a washi maker.

  • We should be able to make an original paper for you.

  • Working as a craftsperson,

  • making paper is predictible,

  • but I face myself and can use my senses to make paper, so I like it.

  • That's what I like the best.

  • The tough part about this job

  • is getting the materials.

  • I guess I should grow them, but we need lots

  • of materials, so we have to ask farmers to grow them.

  • So those farmers are getting older and there are no young people to take over the job.

  • I think the biggest problem is the lack of young apprentices.

  • Echizen actually has an art camp program,

  • so people from around the world can come to learn the Echizen way of making paper.

  • For example, this is the work of a French artist.

  • These dragons on the fusuma are by a local Japanese artist.

  • And he also painted dragons for Ryusen Hamono,

  • which literally means dragon spring blades.

  • Echizen Uchihamono were my primary interest in the visit.

  • A couple years ago, I saw some YouTuber sharpening and restoring knives

  • and was inspired to start doing it with my own.

  • Ever since then I've been wanting to invest in a good knife

  • and thought visiting a factory where they handcraft the knives,

  • would be a good way to buy art that was also practical in my everyday life.

  • Or if I'm being honest, my wife's, because she does the majority of the cooking.

  • And before you start with the comments, I do pick up the slack in the laundry, bathroom, and dish departments.

  • I knew that there was the possibility to make a knife on the trip,

  • but I was much more interested in seeing the masters at work.

  • But I was really glad that I did get to try my hand at it,

  • because boy, does your respect level for the craft go up, after only a few minutes of trying to do it yourself.

  • What seemed quite effortless through the camera lens, suddenly became incredibly difficult when in my hands.

  • Wow, they must be really strong!

  • The precision of using the auto-hammer was such, that you had to press just hard enough with your foot to get it started.

  • But not so hard that you hit the soon-to-be-knife with too much force.

  • What surprised me was how manual the whole process was.

  • So much of it seemed to be done by touch, by feel.

  • Checking on all the little imperfections,

  • and taking something that seemed incapable of minor adjustments,

  • a hammer, and hitting it out.

  • I actually made a whole video about how Echizen Uchihamono are made;

  • I'll leave the link in the description.

  • I'm also making another video about my experience

  • with choosing and using my new handcrafted Japanese knife,

  • which I'll also link to once it's done.

  • If you want to get hands-on experience with some of Japan's traditional crafts,

  • I don't think you can go wrong with Echizen.

  • During the whole trip I kept on thinking about how much my kids would have liked it,

  • especially Shin, who goes to art class every week.

  • I'd really love to take him out to one of the family workshops where he can make his very own paper,

  • like this.

  • Thanks for watching, see you next time, bye!

  • What are some good handcrafting experiences you can do where you're from?

  • This one's locked, right?

  • Can't open it, can't open it.

  • Open it...

Hello World!

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B1 中級

和紙・キャビネット・包丁を使ったハンズオン (Hands-on with Japanese Paper, Cabinets, and Knives)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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