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Nakaya Craftsmen

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37 replies to this topic

#1 Pelikan_FP

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 01:26

As I sit back and wait (im)patiently for my Nakaya Cigar Piccolo Decapod Kuro-tamenuri to be crafted to my specifications, I wonder about how much longer will we be privileged to have Nakaya fountain pens hand made.  

 

Please correct me if I'm wrong.  It's my understanding that they only employ four craftsmen to hand make their pens and perusing through Nakaya's site, the age of them are 76, 51, 75, and 82 years young!    Their years of experience are great and I would imagine that it would not be easy to replace such expertise easily in case of the inevitable fate that consumes us all.  Still I wonder what would happen to Nakaya when this day comes.  Will they be able to find other people to take their place?  Will the fountain pens be made to the similar exacting standards?  Will the production become mechanized?  What do you think?    

 

In the mean time, I'll sit back and appreciate the fact that these fine craftsmen are beginning to make my pen and hope for the best.

 

:happycloud9:


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#2 Brian C

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 01:41

From my limited knowledge the individuals you are referring to are the ones that lathe the pens and set the nibs. That can be taught to other Platinum employees. The ones that actually lacquer the pens will keep on doing it and will be replaced if needed. My feelings have always been the Nakaya is just the "fancy" branch of Platinum used to sell the more exclusive pens. Look at the Platinum Izumo pens. Ebonite/Urushi pens and I've not heard one review mention that the quality of either the pen itself for the lacquer is any worse than that of Nakaya. This is, obviously, just my "gut feeling" I've got nothing to back this up.



#3 Algester

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 02:17

no one knows is the urushi outsourced if so then if the urushi maker dies and with no one to replace him or her then thats 1 supplier down... theoretically speaking considering the hectic life of japanese crafts people its a dwindling spiral of despair... replacing isnt easy if there's no one to replace with to begin with
case in point you guys maybe privileged now but in the long run as the "japanese breed" slowly dies its only danitrio who will be left up and standing cause we know they are based in the US with US based japanese crafts people doing the maki-e and urushi
unless by sheer luck and coincidence they suddenly get a population boom and this generation finally got the interest of pursuing cultural arts (despite the parents best interests) then it would be a miracle by no means this is political than it is a social issue thats been surrounding japan for at least 50 or so years

Edited by Algester, 18 August 2015 - 02:29.


#4 Brian C

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 02:45

no one knows is the urushi outsourced if so then if the urushi maker dies and with no one to replace him or her then thats 1 supplier down... theoretically speaking considering the hectic life of japanese crafts people its a dwindling spiral of despair... replacing isnt easy if there's no one to replace with to begin with
case in point you guys maybe privileged now but in the long run as the "japanese breed" slowly dies its only danitrio who will be left up and standing cause we know they are based in the US with US based japanese crafts people doing the maki-e and urushi
unless by sheer luck and coincidence they suddenly get a population boom and this generation finally got the interest of pursuing cultural arts (despite the parents best interests) then it would be a miracle by no means this is political than it is a social issue thats been surrounding japan for at least 50 or so years

The point that I was trying to get to with my first rambling post is that I don't think Nakaya is as removed from Platinum as they want us to believe. Platinum is a large enough company. They can hire and train employees to do the work. Seems to me that they already have as they are putting out some pretty darn good urushi pens right now. 



#5 Algester

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 04:49

it just seems the case but we do not know whats happening behind the doors... are we sure that platinum is sending the employees to nakaya or is nakaya still needs to train apprentices and is the urushi made and done in house (which I doubt considering the toxicity of the material in the heart of tokyo...) or outsourced again without the urushi you dont have a nakaya you may have the ebonite to make the pen with but with out the coat to coat them with
again you said they may hire but in japan people is increasingly becoming finite aka "dying breed" again without people to refresh the system its going to be a hopeless battle there's a reason why we only know the ages of the people that work in the nakaya workshop and nothing more

Edited by Algester, 18 August 2015 - 04:53.


#6 hari317

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 04:59

Just like Yukio Nagahara of Sailor was trained to stand in the shoes of his legendary father, the son of the crafts man at Hakase now makes the pens,  there will be successors to great craftsmen. Some crafts do die with no one to continue, such is life and nothing can be done about it.

 

One way is to encourage the next generation to take up the craft by making it worthwhile for them to take it up. So keep buying those "high end" pieces and new crafts men will keep coming.


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#7 Brian C

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 12:49

it just seems the case but we do not know whats happening behind the doors... are we sure that platinum is sending the employees to nakaya or is nakaya still needs to train apprentices and is the urushi made and done in house (which I doubt considering the toxicity of the material in the heart of tokyo...) or outsourced again without the urushi you dont have a nakaya you may have the ebonite to make the pen with but with out the coat to coat them with
again you said they may hire but in japan people is increasingly becoming finite aka "dying breed" again without people to refresh the system its going to be a hopeless battle there's a reason why we only know the ages of the people that work in the nakaya workshop and nothing more

Oh, I get what you are saying. Nakaya makes the nibs and pens in house, so they can hire and train someone to do that. But, if they outsource the urushi, which I assume they do then they have less control of that workforce. I didn't think of that. 



#8 Algester

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 15:03

Just like Yukio Nagahara of Sailor was trained to stand in the shoes of his legendary father, the son of the crafts man at Hakase now makes the pens,  there will be successors to great craftsmen. Some crafts do die with no one to continue, such is life and nothing can be done about it.
 
One way is to encourage the next generation to take up the craft by making it worthwhile for them to take it up. So keep buying those "high end" pieces and new crafts men will keep coming.

the question becomes will there be a next generation... while they currently do its slowly dying I still havent dug any info about Yukio Nagahara but one thing was certain the newest issue of Shuumi Bungu no Hako he's the spotlight in one of the articles, let's just hope he too has an apprentice so is Ishimura Osamu who is the ink mixer for Sailor he's probably not well known but if once went you gaga over KN, maruzen and many more inks he's the guy responsible for them

and has anyone got word of what happened to the Kato Seisakusho pen company... after Mr. Kato's passing?

Edited by Algester, 18 August 2015 - 15:21.


#9 Pelikan_FP

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 00:45

Thanks for the food for thought.  Interesting point about the urushi if it's being done in-house or if it's being outsourced.  

 

I hope Nakaya are pragmatic and large enough to have successors in line to take over the workload the key positions in crafting the pens when the need arises.  


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#10 ralfstc

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 04:58

According to some recent correspondence I had with Nakaya the urushi is done in Wajima. Apparently they make the pen bodies etc. and they are sent off to Wajima for finishing. Wajima is considered the heart of the Japanese lacquerware industry.

 

This doesn't, of course, mean that some Maki-e and specialized things are done in Tokyo, but it does mean that one of the key stages of production is sustainable.

 

Ralf



#11 tenney

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 08:52

Regardless of where it's done or whether employee or not, the urushi is a craft that takes years to learn yo do well. And finding and training (several years)is just tough to do. And some pens, e.g. Dorsal Fin is just not an assembly line process.
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#12 Siv

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 11:45

case in point you guys maybe privileged now but in the long run as the "japanese breed" slowly dies its only danitrio who will be left up and standing cause we know they are based in the US with US based japanese crafts people doing the maki-e and urushi

 

Danitrio are 95% Japanese made pens (the remaining 5% is the German Bock nib). The maki-e on high end Danitrio is done by artists in Wajima or Yamanaka.

 

Of course there are "Western" or non-Japan based maki-e artists. Ernest Shin is an example.


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#13 Algester

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 13:48

Danitrio are 95% Japanese made pens (the remaining 5% is the German Bock nib). The maki-e on high end Danitrio is done by artists in Wajima or Yamanaka.
 
Of course there are "Western" or non-Japan based maki-e artists. Ernest Shin is an example.

huh? I thought these pens were made in America? at least looking at the photos of the artists for Danitrio would tell me something
well ok the maki-e artists are indeed from japan... but where's the factory/workshop/atelier... that I can't be too certain I'll dig around
hmm... I'm looking around japanese google it seems danitrio's site is EN only... odd if has a "base" in japan... I mean sure I admit to know that its a US based company...

Edited by Algester, 23 August 2015 - 14:17.


#14 tenney

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 07:03

Whether it's an American company sourcing artists from Japan, or a Japanese company using those same artists isn't a problem. Danitrio uses Japanese artists, except in, as I understand it, one case.
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#15 rpsyed

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 21:56

huh? I thought these pens were made in America? at least looking at the photos of the artists for Danitrio would tell me something
well ok the maki-e artists are indeed from japan... but where's the factory/workshop/atelier... that I can't be too certain I'll dig around
hmm... I'm looking around japanese google it seems danitrio's site is EN only... odd if has a "base" in japan... I mean sure I admit to know that its a US based company...

Here is Danitrio's explanation of their company and pens, as of November 2013:
 
"Incidentally, we like to clarify that our company was registered in Los Angeles in 1974, and its nationality is U.S.A. We never say or consider ourselves as a Japanese company. All our Maki-e are done only in Japan since 2004 not like some other company done in China. We have been looking for some Japanese nib makers in order to buy better nibs than Bocks for our Maki-e pens since we started selling Maki-e pens in 2000, while it doesnt make sense to use Japanese nibs with quality inferior to Bocks. And therefore, we are still looking.

The material, ebonite for our pens is 100% made in Japan. And the pens turned in either Japan or Taiwan by half. And the nibs are from Germany. When we have to declare where is the origin of our pens, we probably have to say that our Maki-e pens are from Japan by value. For your kind references that German nibs and the ebonite pens occupy the cost for the Maki-e pens should be around 15% each to less than 1% each. The nib is the main thing to fountain pen practical users, but compare with our high-end Maki-e on the pens, the art shares more than 99% of the whole value! So where are our pens should belong to, we like to leave it to your good judgment."
 
Link to source, look at the last two paragraphs.

Edited by rpsyed, 09 September 2015 - 03:22.


#16 zaddick

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 22:11

"So where are our pens should belong to, we like to leave it to your good judgment."

 

Link to source, look at the last two paragraphs.

 

Germany it is then! The nib makes the pen. :D

 

That's some pretty fancy spin for someone who does not work for Montblanc.


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#17 rpsyed

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 22:26

Germany it is then! The nib makes the pen. :D
 
That's some pretty fancy spin for someone who does not work for Montblanc.

Hahaha, that's fair enough, I guess. They say themselves, "We never say or consider ourselves as a Japanese company." Where would Visconti and Omas fit in though? Or Bexley and Franklin-Christoph?

I think of Danitrio as just being a mutt.

#18 Pelikan_FP

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 00:39

Hahaha, that's fair enough, I guess. They say themselves, "We never say or consider ourselves as a Japanese company." Where would Visconti and Omas fit in though? Or Bexley and Franklin-Christoph?

I think of Danitrio as just being a mutt.

 

It's an interesting read.  Japan or Germany or perhaps "Jerman" would be better.   


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#19 Samovar

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 07:46

I visited the Nakaya office a few year back and they seem to do only the assembling of the parts. I have a feeling that most of the heavy lifting was done elsewhere. It was a very different story at Hakase where you can see all the steps of the pen making right under your eyes.    
I'm pretty sure that some workers will graduate from the Platinum company and replace these old workers.   

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Edited by Samovar, 09 September 2015 - 07:47.

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#20 hooper

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 08:40

That's my guess, too. The way they're selling, the business is just too good to shut down, even if they have to keep up the "bunch of 70-year-olds" romance for image purposes.

Sourcing the actual urushi craftsmen may be another story.





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