What do you think it means to create a new product through this project within the history of Maru Butsudan up to now?
I think a big part of it is that I want people from all over to see how beautiful it is. I honestly can’t imagine what kind of lacquerware people in Europe would want, but I think it is worth the challenge to collaborate with designers to transform the technique into a product and sell it.
In your collaboration with the designers this time, were there any newly adopted ideas, new techniques, or a change in perspective?
One of our products is a colorful candelabra, which is a design we would never have thought of on our own. We never think of this kind of color combination. I don’t know if it is because I am Japanese or because I am a craftsman, but when I first saw the design, I didn’t think it was cool and thought it was too eccentric. Now that I think about it, I think I had decided that this kind of color scheme was not Japanese colors.
How do you feel about the actual production?
Yes, I think this may be the way to go once it actually takes shape. I think I just didn’t have the courage to do it before, but I’m still skeptical. But if Europeans see it and don’t say it’s weird, then this kind of color scheme is possible, and that is a great discovery for us.
The candlestick is made of metal (brass), is there any reason for this?
Yes, it is. It is metal. Above all, we are a Buddhist altar shop that makes items for prayer. We have the technology of lacquer, which we have combined in this product called the candlestick. There is a candlestick stand in the Buddhist altar industry, but it is basically made of brass. Brass has always been rustproof and golden. Gold is considered to be a color that keeps away impurities and bad things. However, if you made everything out of pure gold, it would be very expensive, so brass has been often used as a substitute. That is the concept behind the candlestick, so we made it out of brass this time.
How many craftsmen are involved in making this product?
First, a brass processor. A craftsman who will provide us with sharkskin, as we will be using a technique called sharkskin coating, which involves wrapping sharkskin around the surface of the piece. The lacquer shop that will prepare the lacquer. A craftsman who paints the base coat. There are about five of them.
How long does it take to make one thing?
For a large candlestick, it takes one month just to apply the lacquer, including drying time. The process of lacquering involves drying and applying lacquer over and over again, and especially in the case of shagreen lacquer, the lacquer has to be applied quite a few times. In particular, the lacquer has to be applied so much that the unevenness of the sharkskin is filled in. To reach that state, the lacquer has to be applied about nine times. If you rush to apply the lacquer before the inside is dry, the finish will not be good, so it takes time to dry.
What kind of people would you like to see use something like this that you have spent so much time making?
I hope that they will be useful for a richer life. There are plenty of cheaper and more convenient products out there, but I think it is a matter of what you choose. I want people to appreciate the things we put a lot of effort into making, to think they are beautiful, and to enjoy using them as tools for daily life, rather than just buying them and calling it a day.