A paper-hanger studio which stands out with their elaborate job.
Text : Keiko Nakamura / Photo : Naoki Matsuda
Walking on Shin-omiya shopping street close to Daitoku-ji Temple, I found a sign carved out of wood saying ‘Hyogushi (a paper hanger). I visited a studio which has left an atmosphere of old Kyomachiya (traditional townhouses in Kyoto). I saw beautiful facilities of Fusuma (papered sliding door) and Tatami mat and it seems this is a residence as well. They guided me to a second floor where some craftsmen work and the third owner, Mr.Minoru Nakajima, and his elder son, Mr.Takumi Nakajima welcomed me. Their business cards says, ‘The Urasenke exclusive paper-hanger (for tea-ceremony house)’.
The paper-hanger who works for mounting Kakejiku (Japanese hanging scroll picture), Fusuma (papered sliding door), Shoji (sash), and Byobu (folding screen). His predecessor used to visit the head of Urasenke and had a lot of jobs for tea-ceremony house. They worked with ‘Tawaraya’ a long-established inn and the annex of Konosuke Matsushita so far and of course they can work with regular customers for changing their sashes.
At this spacious studio, 12 craftsmen work in a division of labour. Today, they were working on Kakejiku. They worked on removing creases by spraying water on a back side of the image not to be blotted and lining a thin paper to make it strong. Some craftsmen worked on making wall hangings and they cut off extra thin paper part carefully which is explained above, not to show from the front side. This is what it’s called ‘Mimisuki’. Mr.Minoru Nakajima, who’s been here almost 50 years, told us, “We take care of our customers’ precious works of art so that we always have been sensitive about working on all these things.” If their customers are not hurry, they take a year to finish everything. Going through a lot of processes and checks, then finally everything will be completed.
The owner’s elder son works here for 16 years. After he quit a job at the sales department of a leading automaker, he decided to succeed his family business. He said, “I was very proud of working as a salesman, but I got freshly impressed by the scenery of how all these paper-hangers worked here and yes, I decided to do something that only I can do”. He started training himself since then and now the owner leaves to him an important job that he needs to deliver works to his clients.
On the other hand, he tries to make his work better than ever with his sense of creativity. In order to let the light go into Fusuma beautifully, he uses an acrylic board instead of wooden one at a base of a knob part. He also uses old Kimono into Byobu sliding door, and promote some modern style to the world.
Moreover, he participated in ‘Kei Art’ and also ‘executive committee of Futaba-Afuhi exhibition’. His byobu work was highly evaluated because the images of sakura tree in Japanese paper on byobu rises to the surface only when it receives a light and makes everyone feel that we are all watching sakura tree at a night time. He said calmly with a smile, “I would like to have more opportunities to have a spotlight onto our craftsmanship and would like to promote our job to the world. Hopefully, my 3 sons would say that they would like to succeed my job in the future”.
ADDRESS : 46 Murasakino-monzencho, Kita-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-492-1601
HOURS : 8:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.
CLOSED : Sunday, New Year’s day, Irregular holidays.