Monday, January 23, 2006
Kezurou-kai Gotemba, september 2005
The gild of shaving gentlemen... Kezurou-kai is a group famous in Japan for its contests: the goal is to achieve the thinnest possible shaving. But it is much more than competition: it gathers two times a year woodworkers, craft -men and -women, blacksmith, temple builders and teachers.
My meeting with Kezurou-kai
Thanks to the web, I got in touch with the secretary of Kezurou-kai Japan, Sachiko. This was in october 2004. She wrote me I could go to their meeting that was happening just 3 days later. This was too short a notice for my first trip to Japan, but I had at least a contact from Japan.
Then at the end of february 2005, Sachiko let me know there is another meeting on the 5th of march in Miki city. I decide to go... though I didn't know where is Miki, didn't know any Japanese except few tools names, and new nothing about where to sleep and go to the meeting place. Well, that's fine, I was so happy I could go to Japan that I forgot about the unknowns.
Kezuroukai publishes a quaterly magazine. Sachiko and Mr Sugimura have been very kind to send it to me after my first meeting. It contains a lot of information on various subjects such as comparison test of planes, meeting minutes, interviews...
Miki-city (march 2005)
My first kezurou-kai meeting was to be the begining of my profound interest in Japanese tools and a deep sympathy with the Japanese people I have met. I hadn't heard about such kind people and hadn't met any.
I landed in Nagoya and was about to meet Sachiko for the first time. I had no idea how she looked, she only told me she was going to wear a red coat. I've found her no problem waiting for me. We drove to Mr Sugimura's workshop where I was going to spend the night. It was a bit cold in Japan in march. The next morning, Mr Sugimura and I drove to Miki. Sachiko couldn't join us.
Mr Takashima （高島さん）using a pump drill on a dai during a dai maiking workshop.
From left to right: Mr Ouchi, Mr Myiamoto, Mr Yamaguchi and Mr Sugimura.
Highlights of my trip was actually after the meeting, when Mr Sugimura and I visited some blacksmiths.
宮本さん 高島さん 横山さん 仁村さん all gave me one hand plane while I and Mr Sugimura was visiting them to Miki-city.
Gotemba (september 2005)
My second trip to Japan and Kezuroukai meeting was also a great experience. This meeting was a "biiigg meeting" as Mr Sugimura said. It was indeed. It took place in Gotemba city, near the mount Fuji. Kezurou-kai America members were also present and it was nice to meet them.
There were a lot of activities: using an ax, forging a plane blade, workshops on how to use a saw, some metate (saw sharpeners), dai (plane body) makers, you could make your own marking knife... A lot of tools were also for sale.
Mr Hayashi （林さん） sharpening his Maebiki.
Mr Hayashi wrote a book about sawing. A Taiwanese friend of mine helped to buy it. I can't read what's written, but can recognize few words and it is interesting anyway to look at the few pictures and drawings.
I was very surprised to see him at the meeting. One of the highlight of the meeting was to try one of his maebiki.
Mr Yamaguchi (sitting) giving direction to Mr Sugimura, Mr Kendo (saw maker) carefully observing.