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Some of you know me by name, some of you know me by face. My name is Matt, I work at Ito-ya in Ginza.


Everyone on this forum has been extremely helpful and insightful over the last few years. I am not promoting anything for my company, but I would like to ask for your opinions and advice on an event that I am trying to plan for our main store in Tokyo.


During the summer, on weekends, I would like to hold a Maki-e class in English for the many foreign customers that visit our store. In the past, we have held Maki-E classes for our Japanese customers, but Japanese people do not seem to be as enamored by the Maki-e technique as their foreign counter parts. I know that the people that subscribe to this section of FPN love Japanese pens and there seems to be a great deal of interest in the art of Maki-e.


My plans for the class would be to give a 30-45min class, in English, about the different techniques used in the Maki-e process explaining why one pen may cost about $50 but another can cost upwards of $10,000. I also plan on covering the history of the process and its traditional uses other than the fountain pens that we are all familiar with.


If there is only a class where we hand out a small brochure and or leaflet, we will be able to hold the class for free. However, if only being able to hand out leaflets does not draw people to the class we are thinking about doing an event where the customers will be able to make their own 'maki-e' souvenir. This, however, would end up causing the class to cost about 3000JPY.


So, basically, I want to ask you lovely people and pen lovers, 'What would you like to see in a Maki-e class?' How important would making your own Maki-e souvenir be? Would just learning about the process for 30-40min satisfy your lust for knowledge, just wet you appetite or be mind numbingly long and tedious? Would including a breif history of Japanese fountain pens in general make the topic less dull and more interesting?


Also, if you were in Tokyo this summer, is this something that you would like to learn more about? Is this an event that would interest you?


I personally love Maki-e and want to share it with the world.


I thank you all in advance for any opinions/advice that you can give me.





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As one who is newly in maki-e, but in love with it, I'd tell that I had to read a lot about maki-e, its techniques, types of maki-e, etc. I do not think that any maki-e lovers did not do the same. There are also same good books available about the subject. A 40-minute class could not give me more knowledge. Sincerely. The great advantage would be that you have the FPs on the spot, so that the things could be better exemplified. Some videos illustrating the different phases of maki-e would be also useful (all the videos I saw were unclear). To have also some samples of materials, some instruments or any other materials that could not be seen in the available books or internet, You should offer much than usual is possible for a foreigner to see or read on internet. I'd make a video explaining maki-e and create a place in the shop where any tourist could see it at any time. Maybe the most difficult to be understood by a foreigner are the FPs made by applying many techniques on the same FP. Shortly, try to offer in your maki-e class smth that usually is not at hand for a foreigner and use how much examples you can.

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Wish I had known you were here as I visited Ito-ya just about 10 days ago!

I would be very interested if it turns out that I would visit again, though I don't think I will make it back quite that soon. I would be happy with just a lecture as my artistic skills are minimal but a souvenir could be fun if I got to make something that was not too demanding. 30-45 min would be fine and I would not be bored. Examples (whether photographic or actual samples) would be important.

Really wish I could be there! Maybe someone could do a video?


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Maki-e souvenir idea looks more attractive from a point , it may have interest also from people who value hand crafting and art may bring tourists also not interested with fountain pens. 5-10 minutes basic video on youtube may be nice also. But you need work space for also i guess .Good luck .

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Thanks for all the input.


Like I said, it is still just an idea that I'm kicking around. I think that Maki-e is one of those things in which many foreigners have interest but many know little about.


Even is we do a general explanation of maki-e including it's use outside of the pen world.


I'm hoping that I can get examples from a few non local producers as well.


I also feel like holding the class will help people understand the difference in why the cost of one product can very so greatly from another.


I guess the other thing is I don't plan on holding the class for persons well seasoned in the applications and uses if maki-e but more for people who are curious about this somewhat elite Japanese art form.


At any rate, thank you all for your advise. I hope that more people will continue to contribute to this post.

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I travelled to Japan a couple of years ago and throughly enjoyed it. I need to return!


I went to Itoya but I am sorry we didnt meet. A class of the nature you describe would be a good incentive for me to go back, but that wont be until 2015 unfortunately.


I would certainly welcome a better understanding of the differences in types of maki-e and, to be honest Urushi, how to spot quality and so on.


Hope your plan comes to fruition, its great to see people taking the initiative :) :thumbup:

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