How to inherit the traditional techniques in Japan
how to inherit the traditional techniques by learning Japanese nails known as “Wakugi”
Sanjyo-city in Niigata prefecture is located in the northern part of Japan, 2 hours trip by shinkansen. The city is known as a famous metal industrial city in Japan.
Sanjyo-city has started its history as a origin of the “Japanese nail” in Edo period and has been inheriting the technique since then. It has not only inherited the technique but also the craftsmanship and spirit of the place.
Knowing a nail and the history
Because Seibei Otani of 出雲崎代官 which ruled (Christian era 1625), this district for Kan-ei era two years of the Edo era relieves a farmer suffering from the flooding of the river.
The harmony among San-jyo Kaji nail invites nail Kaji craftsman from Edo, and it is done with an opening that instruction recommended the manufacturing process of the sum nail as a side business of the farmhouses.
A sum nail is a nail used for a Japanese old building.
An axle is round, and a head images a flat thing when said to be “a nail”, but, in fact, the nail of such a form is “Western nail” where it was introduced to Japan after the Meiji era.
Demand for a western nail is overwhelming, but it is a sum nail now that the repair reconstruction of the old buildings such as a Shinto shrine Buddhist temple, the castle must have. As for the sum nail, the shape of the head varies by a use, but, as for the axial shape, the whole becomes square.
The demand for sum nail increased rapidly by a great fire and a massive earthquake of Edo, and the making of sum nail became popular.
The new manufacturing processes such as a saw or the hatchet from the Aizu region was introduced. It made use of high technology, and the product opened from a sum nail to a sickle, a saw, a kitchen knife, and professional Kaji was gradually born.
The merchant who was specialized in hardware called the ironmonger appeared and enlarged the commercial domain, and San-jyo Kaji developed into big industry to win fame in the whole country afterwards.
It develops to working tool, measure, woodwork product, outdoor article, metal industrial city, San-jyo mainly produces metalwork including the air-conditioning apparatus that assumed a kitchen knife and a tool, a forging technology to inherit a tradition of this San-jyo Kaji a base now.
Unexpected connection with “Ise-jingu Grand Shrine”
Ise-jingu Grand Shrine converts the main shrine of two original shrines of Naiku (Ise Grand Shrine), Geku (the Toyoke Grand Shrine at Ise), all main shrines of 14 detached palaces as a general rule every 20 years and moves Enshrined object. It is a tradition called “Shikinen-sengu”.
Ise shrine inner shrine / inucara
It is a sum nail of San-jyo to be used in the adaptation of this main shrine.
Series of events for “Shikinen-Sengu” have been held since 2005 and is going to be completed in (2013) in 2013 and of course is used the sum of this San-jyo nail a lot.
Abundant experience-based lecture
“San-jyo Kaji dojo studio” for trial lessons of making “Wakugi” opened in 1993.
It conveyed a technique of this classic San-jyo Kaji blacksmith techniques widely.
The dojo studio opened various courses and lectures from “polish a kitchen knife” course, and woodwork such as experiences made with a sum nail, various “skill” of the San-jyo tradition.
Trial lesson for making “wakugi” to feel the “will to inherit to the next generation”
We tried the “wakugi”making at the Do-jo. We heat the iron bar until the color turns to be orange first.
Next, we form the part of head of the nail. The head which became soft after heating is bended at the edge of table. At the end of this process, we strike the bended part to make a perfect form.
I beat a bit next and sharpen it. An art of how to beat hammers is not to beat by power. I grasp the hammer lightly and relax, then beat a nail.
This is how it turns out.
A nail point was not set and became very flat.”I must have you do it for at least three years to make a good sum nail”. A Kaji craftsman gave words to me.
The Source of “Willingness to inherit” comes from Pride and confidence.
It is a very important thing to convey a Japanese tradition technique.
Nevertheless, the existence of the technique or existence of sum nail itself may not be well known at all. Such technique and tradition are the best to experience it and feel it to know the true value of it.
By experiencing the traditional technique, I have heard of the people who found the tradition and culture to be so close to them.
The San-jyo blacksmith Do-jo prepares the environment for the craftsmen but it is open for the visitors with wide variety of lessons and trials. Our motivation to be open to any visitors is the will to “inherit”. We want to express our pride and confidence in the techniques we have been inherited.
The Do-jo experience which is open to anyone is one form of the traditions and techniques that touches one’s heart.