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Nakaya Craftsmen



Pelikan_FP
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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.

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/149311-inside-nakaya/page-1?do=findComment&comment=1484956

 

Great pics from that thread. Do you mind if i use some of them on another forum? because i want to write a post on Nakaya and help people have a deeper knowledge on how Nakaya runs their business.

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hmm so this means to say that the pens are made in Wajima City down from the maki-e the ebonite and Urushi

which would mean that if my theory is correct they should be having the Urushi set aside for them from the Urushi manufacturer cause like celluloid making it seriously takes time to make them 6 months at least a month to cure perfectly

then the ebonite that would be turned into pens as well perhaps considering what I read from stutler's article

http://www.stutler.cc/pens/wajima/

they really flew to Wajima City just to make the pens so I presume the workhouse is really found here somewhere in the city

then coat the pens and I presume everything is done in a shift by shift basis probably twice a year shift cycle

so then the workflow goes like

5.5 months claim orders in Tokyo

5.5 months manufacture in Wajima, go back to Tokyo for finishing (nib insert and grinding)

last step delivery...

this is if everything really goes in 6 months of course there could be cases that it will turn to 1 year manufacture cycle just to fulfill backlog

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I'm not an urushi expert, but I think the urushi business is not about to die anytime soon. Lacquerware are still sold quite widely in Japan. I've seen some very local products in danger of vanishing from the market, but I don't think urushi is about to disappear. I remember visiting a comb maker in Kiso valley and he was one of the rare maker alive. But it was a very local product made in only one village with one type of rare wood.

An old school principal told me that urushi was so common in his village when he was a kid that the farmers would weave some kind of bucket with rice straw and coat it with urushi to make it waterproof.

Since urushi lacquerware is used for tea ceremony, I am sure the artist will pass on their knowledge.

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the Urushi business may not look like much but its getting some disturbance outside cause China still can make them cheaply oddly enough but yes its a business that can not die just yet unless no one is refreshing the system then that might be a case for some other time

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I've seen some very local products in danger of vanishing from the market, but I don't think urushi is about to disappear. I remember visiting a comb maker in Kiso valley and he was one of the rare maker alive. But it was a very local product made in only one village with one type of rare wood.

 

 

Is there any resource for these specialist craftsmen online, in books or elsewhere? I have stumbled upon countless artisans while visiting Japan, but it has usually been as a result of getting hopelessly lost, sticking my head in through doors, and realising a nice surprise. As I am planning to visit once more this winter (though with two very very young children in tow), I'd like to be able to be a little more targeted with my fortuitous mishaps.

Edited by mongrelnomad

Too many pens; too little writing.

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Is there any resource for these specialist craftsmen online, in books or elsewhere? I have stumbled upon countless artisans while visiting Japan, but it has usually been as a result of getting hopelessly lost, sticking my head in through doors, and realising a nice surprise. As I am planning to visit once more this winter (though with two very very young children in tow), I'd like to be able to be a little more targeted with my fortuitous mishaps.

if were talking about pens you have to check masters of the fountain pen shuumi bungu no hako which is a quarterly produced magazine covers 1 person per issue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=272yvzbcsUs

here's an example of a Dutch washi maker now living in Japan

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if were talking about pens you have to check masters of the fountain pen shuumi bungu no hako which is a quarterly produced magazine covers 1 person per issue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=272yvzbcsUs

here's an example of a Dutch washi maker now living in Japan

I think I'm good for pens. I was hoping to cast the net a little wonder. :)

Too many pens; too little writing.

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if were talking about pens you have to check masters of the fountain pen shuumi bungu no hako which is a quarterly produced magazine covers 1 person per issue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=272yvzbcsUs

here's an example of a Dutch washi maker now living in Japan

 

Thanks for the link. I very much enjoyed watching it.

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Is there any resource for these specialist craftsmen online, in books or elsewhere? I have stumbled upon countless artisans while visiting Japan, but it has usually been as a result of getting hopelessly lost, sticking my head in through doors, and realising a nice surprise. As I am planning to visit once more this winter (though with two very very young children in tow), I'd like to be able to be a little more targeted with my fortuitous mishaps.

These craftmans are everywhere, depends what you are looking for. Kyoto has loads of interesting places for handmade products.

 

They have magazines in Japanese about products made in Japan. Design magazine like Brutus http://magazineworld.jp/brutus/http://magazineworld.jp/brutus/ or Casa magazine offer cover handmade products http://magazineworld.jp/casabrutus/

 

http://www.kyotoguide.com/ver2/thismonth/urushi.html

 

I really fancy these handmade tin boxes also made in Kyoto.

 

http://www.kaikado.jp/english/index.html

 

If you visit a specific region, I would try to visit the tourist info booth or a rest area if you are on the highway. They often have info about local craft.

 

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hmm so this means to say that the pens are made in Wajima City down from the maki-e the ebonite and Urushi

which would mean that if my theory is correct they should be having the Urushi set aside for them from the Urushi manufacturer cause like celluloid making it seriously takes time to make them 6 months at least a month to cure perfectly

then the ebonite that would be turned into pens as well perhaps considering what I read from stutler's article

http://www.stutler.cc/pens/wajima/

they really flew to Wajima City just to make the pens so I presume the workhouse is really found here somewhere in the city

then coat the pens and I presume everything is done in a shift by shift basis probably twice a year shift cycle

so then the workflow goes like

5.5 months claim orders in Tokyo

5.5 months manufacture in Wajima, go back to Tokyo for finishing (nib insert and grinding)

last step delivery...

this is if everything really goes in 6 months of course there could be cases that it will turn to 1 year manufacture cycle just to fulfill backlog

Not exactly. Urushi is not like celluloid where it takes years for a rod to fully cure and stop changing its dimension. Urushi cures with heat and moisture. This is done in a Urushi-buro (or furo or muro) a special box or even room that maintains the proper heat and moisture level. Urushi takes about 24 hrs to cure to 95%-98% while the remaining percentage can take a year if under the right conditions. There are variations depending on which type and grade of urushi. Urushi comes in tubes or tins. The best grade is made entirely in Japan but a lot comes from China and other Asian cointries like Vietnam. Remember, urushi is basically the sap from a tree that has been refined. In many ways, it is like maple syrup. In many cases, the sap is harvested in China and sent to Japan to be refined.

 

I'm not sure who makes the ebonite for Nakaya but I would not be surprised if it was Eboya (aka Nikko Ebonite). I'll ask Mr. Endo the next time I see him.

 

As for the pens bodies, they are turned in the Tokyo area. In the early, years, Mr. Matsubara was doing this at his home.

 

You can check out this video. (Shameless plug since I'm in the video along with Ethernautrix and several other Pen Posse members). They filmed part of this at one of our Pen Posse meetings. You can see Mr. Matsubara turning a pen. It is not clear whether this is at the Nakaya office or at another workshop in town.

 

https://youtu.be/bQD9cA7dbXQ

 

 

 

 

It is quite common for all of the urushi and maki-e work to be done away from where the pens are turned. Sailor has had work done in Kanazawa, as an example. It really is not unusual. It is also not unusual for more than one master to work on a single piece of Japanese craft. I own lots of custom Japanese kitchen knives. Often the blade is forged by one master, the blade is sharpened by another, and the handle is made by a third. I have one knife where I received a call from the dealer telling me the company might not be able to finish my knife with the handle I wanted because the craftsman that makes that particular style of handle passed away.

 

 

It is also pointless to lament the discontinuation of a product. It happens all the time. Long before Nakaya was making urushi and maki-e pens they made pens from vintage celluloid stock and leather covered pens. Those pens are no longer made.

Edited by AltecGreen

2020 San Francisco Pen Show
August 28-30th, 2020
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223 Twin Dolphin Drive
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Betweenthelines

 

 

 

I've seen that video before - do you or anyone else know what type of nib is on that kuro tamenuri portable?

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At $600+ per pen, I'm sure Nakaya will find a way to keep producing them. If not, someone else will step up. It's too lucrative a market to let slip away.

Edited by hoppes no9
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http://enterjapan.me/the-dying-art-of-urushi/

I dont want to imagine... at least I have speculated this maybe the case but at least we do know at least partly China is producing the Urushi now... what if they nah...

 

At $600+ per pen, I'm sure Nakaya will find a way to keep producing them. If not, someone else will step up. It's too lucrative a market to let slip away.

I agree someone would step up but it wont be Japan thats for sure

 

but here's what I think will happen the next generation Nakaya/Namiki pens wont be Ebonite over Urushi, the least case would be raw ebonite, until the ebonite supply chain eventually dwindle

Edited by Algester
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I've seen that video before - do you or anyone else know what type of nib is on that kuro tamenuri portable?

No idea. I don't think I've met that person. We were not the only ones involved. The nib looks like a two-tone medium.

2020 San Francisco Pen Show
August 28-30th, 2020
Pullman Hotel San Francisco Bay
223 Twin Dolphin Drive
Redwood City Ca, 94065

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  • 4 weeks later...

well it seems getting a Japanese Urushi might be even harder at least it cant be done on a mass scale

200g a year (is typically gathered from the trees probably I'm not sure if there is some loss during the process of turning the sap into lacquer and considering were talking about trees over extraction is also a no no cause that would cause death for the tree)... assuming I would compare it to like getting maple sap for maple syrup its almost identical

and from what I dig most of the people active in the trade are 50 years old minimum... maybe Nakaya will shift to another japanese art if things really get dire

gathering urushi takes about 5 months (june to october) and you get 200 grams out of it... so probably I'm not joking about that 6 months curing as it seems to be "normal" 5 months gathering during which time the urushi is continuously getting cured only do you put it into the urushi-furo do you hasten the time it cures

but until someone who has really seen the plight of these people I would doubt these info

at least the one who makes taps only has 1 apprentice

 

http://suganokaori.com/urushi.e.html

some where in Japan he's the only one supplying and manufacturing the tools of the trade (some say on 2015 he just got an apprentice)

https://www.facebook.com/jobojiurushi/posts/909871255727708

Edited by Algester
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