How is your craft defined?
Kanazawa Japanese umbrellas are characterised by the four-layered pasting of the tip, the loose pasting of the thick mulberry bark paper and the small threading technique on the outer perimeter. Robust, graceful, and magnificent, they are made strong to endure the wet and heavy snow of the north-western region.
What materials do you prefer to use in your artwork and why?
I use natural materials such as bamboo and "washi" (Japanese paper), a thick paper made of 100 percent mulberry bark that is difficult to produce but strong enough to withstand the climate of Kanazawa. The oil blend used to waterproof the umbrellas is a secret that my father passed on to me when I took over the atelier.
© Noriko Tokumitsu
What is one of your most memorable moments as a craftsman?
At first, I didn't believe my father's words, "This umbrella will last half a century if it is well taken care of." It was only when I saw how many customers brought in 50 to 60-year-old umbrellas to the shop for care that I realised he was right. An umbrella should be strong and beautiful.
Do you feel your craft is in danger?
Yes. Currently, only two facilities in Japan make parts for Japanese umbrellas. Continuing the humble job of an artisan requires much patience. Although the number of craftsmen is decreasing, you only need to see my satisfied customers who continue to seek my work proving the value of my craft.