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The relocation to a production area Ms. Nozomi Shimada from "Shitsurindo"

Published : November 1, 2016
Production area : Sabae
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The first encounter was at a select shop in Tokyo. I made a call a few days later and asked with sitting on my knees, “Aren’t you recruiting an employee?”

Hi, I’m Yumika, the writer. I’d like to introduce a lacquerer, Ms. Nozomi Shimada. She works at a lacquer ware shop named “Shitsurindo” located in Sabae City in Fukui Prefecture. This area is known as a production area of “Echizen lacquer ware”. “Echizen” is the old name for Fukui. They started a “Bowl shop Uchida” which specializes for the daily use bowl in 2013. Unlike the typical lacquer ware, they make lovely lacquer bowls in various colors. She fell in love with the look at the first sight and now she’s here and experiencing as a lacquerer. She says, “ Ever since I was a little girl, what I’ve been only concerned about is making things by hand.” I had an interview with her about the world of craftspeople and a life in a production area that she had jumped into.

I was an ordinary high school student and didn’t know the first thing about the lacquer.

“I was a girl who would rather be home than playing outside. I would use sophistries to stay home and make Christmas cards or something.” She majored in the metal craft in Industrial Art High School. Though it was fun, she said, she wasn’t hooked enough to set her mind to be a craftspeople. At that time, she came across an “unidentified object”. When she went to a museum for a school program, she saw a contemporary art of a big black panel drawn with gold and silver picture on it. The material was the lacquer. An ordinary Tokyo girl didn’t even know that Japanese bowl was applied with lacquer. She needed to know more about the lacquer, and wanted to leave home upon her graduation at the same time. Then she left Tokyo and entered Kyoto Traditional Art College in the following year.
It wasn’t until the time about her graduation that it became real to be a lacquerer. But she couldn’t find an ideal job. She hesitated to be an apprentice to a lacquerer somewhere like in Kyoto or Wajima. So, she decided to go back to Tokyo once.

I’d go anywhere if I would be able to make this lacquer ware.

She looked for a job agonized while doing a part time job at a bookstore for two years. One day, she got a shock at a certain lacquer ware. The little-known colorful lacquer ware were lined there. “I’ve been mesmerized by the possibility of the lacquer as a paint and my graduation work was a blue and pink colored lacquer ware. I’ve always been wanting to make colorful lacquer ware for more fun of our life.” That was just in front of her. That was made by the company named “Shiturindo” in Fukui. She spoke to herself, “I want to work here for the life of me.” She found herself making a call and asked with sitting on her knees, “Aren’t you recruiting an employee?” “If I was rejected,” she recalls, “I was going to give up the way to the lacquer and be a small cog in a society. Her call made them surprised because they didn’t put a recruiting ad at the time. Her showing up and their need of fresh air coincided.
“I didn’t mind a migration at all. I must’ve been anywhere they were. Nobody could’ve stopped me. “Her life as a craftsperson began all of sudden.

I’m a craftsperson and a company employee as well. That’s sort of comfy.

I’m a craftsperson and a company employee as well. That’s sort of comfy.
“The repetitive coating work is fun. I’ll never get tired of it. But sometimes I feel discouraged.” In that case she reflects on herself. “I don’t have enough skills yet for laying subtle stress and the way to use my muscle.” She says, “The same work will never be the same. Every work tells me something new to learn. That’s what make it fun and difficult.”
Her superiors who are even more experienced always teach her gently and closely. She’s never be yelled at. It’s more a company employee than an old fashioned master and apprentice relationship. The employment system is well arranged. “I feel nothing but appreciation.”

Slowly and gradually, I will be the local.

“I feel more like a member of The Uchida Family than an employee. They found my place to live and the president’s spouse gives me vegetables and delis. Everybody here pays attention to others and if someone is in trouble, nobody hesitates to help. “That’s a matter of course here. I’ve become to call to my neighbors in no time.” I questioned her if she found it annoying as she was born and grown up in Tokyo. “I know. People in Tokyo try not to be involved each other. People here understood me, and that’s why we could build a good relationship.”
The slow and steady life was there. There are many younger people who have relocated to the city. Sometimes they get together and take a drive. “I liked to walk in Tokyo, but now I would drive even if it’s a short distance and arrive in three minutes.” She laughed and she looked fit in the local already.

Like the lacquer ware, increasing its texture after a long usage.

She feels affection toward the daily use lacquer ware. “Originally, the lacquer ware is polished to shine with palms as a finishing touch. The more it’s touched by hand, the more the texture increases. That’s why I want to make the ones for the daily use, not for the decoration.” Her idea that she wants to change the image of lacquer ware is vividly comes across.
She’s planning a lacquer accessory now and working on a sample. “It’s difficult to balance a budget between products what I want to make and the cost and time. It’s no hobby. I have to make products pay. I’m learning those things from my boss now.”
“Will you make a living as a craftsperson for good?” I asked her at the end of the interview. “Well” followed by a few seconds’ silence, she answered. I have my hands full with thing in front of me. Maybe it takes a while to decide about my future. This job requires preparations as it’s difficult to keep doing. But it would be so nice if I could be an independent lacquerer.” The craftsperson of millennial generation is straight forward. She must be going to gain experience eagerly and will be stronger, like the lacquer ware she wants to make.

Ms. Nozomi shimada / born in 1992 / age 24 / from Tokyo
Favorite : slow tempo music, fig
She entered Shitsurindo in 2015. Currently she practices as a lacquerer.
“I’m too obsessed with things and fussy person. Even if a little thing doesn’t turn out very well, I cannot go forward. They would say hopelessly, “How long will you keep doing that?” she laughed.

Writer: Yumika Yasuda
Photographer: Naomi Hayashi
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