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Sumikiri n’ stuff 炭切りとか

April 13, 2008

As usual, I stayed with my friends Kazu, Chiharu and their daughter Hana for the first part of my trip to Japan. Normally, I end up joining Kazu at his workplace and photograph him as he creates his swords. This trip was a little different however as we only ended up going to his workshop once as he was meeting with clients or had other things to do during my time there. This time too, he was busy with an equally important though far less dramatic part of his work: sumikiri. In Japanese ‘sumi’ is charcoal and ‘kiri’ is to cut. Charcoal is an integral part of the crafting of a Japanese blade. Not only does the forge run on it but during the heating of the iron, charcoal is imparted into the steel and helps to create the hard yet supple quality that make the Japanese blades such a work of art.

相変わらず、僕の友達の家を滞在しました。たいてい、カズの仕事場に行きます。刃を作れば僕は写真を撮影します。今度、刃は作らなかったです。今度、カズの仕事は炭切りでした。炭切りは劇的じゃないですけれど刃を作る間に炭がとっても大切です

Cutting the charcoal is actually difficult and very dirty work. The only part of the charcoal that isn’t used is the dust. As I watched him separate the tiniest pieces from the dust, I had to wonder how many swordsmiths in the past died of various lung diseases before they invented the disposable surgical mask?

実は炭切りは大変だし、とてもきたない仕事です。煤塵だけ使わないです。使い捨てマスク前にはいくつ人が死んだから肺病に罹るかどうかわからない。

At the risk of offending my other friends who either have kids or are uncles/aunts, I’m convinced that Hana is the cutest kid in the world. Being around kids is always a learning experience. This particular trip, I learned how to draw Doraemon.

僕のほか友達が子供がいるけど華ちゃんは世界中に一番かわいい女の子と思います。子供からいろいろなことを習います。今度はドラエモンの書き方をならいました。

One Comment leave one →
  1. Carman permalink
    April 16, 2008 1:09 am

    How many of us know how hard working and the details of a swordsmith work nowaday besides those new gadgets launch in Japan…I am sure your photos and sharings will let us know more about the traditional and the “Real” Japan. Thanks Gordon

    Like

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