Woodworking Workshop – Project TASK 3

Kudo-sensei’s presentation included a video clip from a TV documentary that was recently broadcast in Japan, which featured two foreign students studying at TASK.

Ryan came from the UK to study woodwork.  Asked why he became interested in Japan, he said his first encounter to Japan’s culture was the Legend of Zelda, a Nintendo video game.  (I’m too old to know anything about this game, let alone how this game is related to Japan’s woodwork at all.)  Ryan was so motivated to study at TASK that he had learned Japanese enough to carry casual conversations prior to coming to TASK. 

Mirei majors in ceramics.  Her father in her native land Taiwan is still concerned about her future.  Mirei would like to give her father peace of mind by dedicating herself to ceramics.  She has won several awards for her excellent work.

The presentation was followed by Q&As. 

Q: Is a student required to have any prior experience in the field?

A: No.  Many of our students don’t have any background of the craft.  Some students are successors of the family profession.  For example, the father of one student of maki-e lacquer decoration is a veteran maki-e craftsman.  He was advised from his father to study at TASK regardless.

Q: What is the reason for adding Yuzen hand-painted kimono decoration to the course?

A: We added this course in response to the request from Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto Hand-painted Yuzen Cooperative.  As you know, the process of Yuzen kimono painting consists of many different processes, many of which face lack of successors.  We need craftsmen who understand and are capable to conduct the whole process.  School system such as TASK is better suited to educate and train such people rather than apprenticeship by individual craftsmen in each process.

After the Q&As, the audience were divided into different groups according to the course that we registered previously.  I thought of registering for maki-e course, but was concerned about possible allergic reaction by using Urushi sap.   I would have taken maki-e course if my trip had been almost over.  But I had another week to go.  Maybe next time.  I registered for woodwork.

From the auditorium to the woodwork studio, I and another person followed the instructor.  On the wooden table, two sets of small pieces of wood and tools were laid out.  A chisel, a saw, a plane, glue, and sandpaper… The assignment was to make a wooden pencil case.  When was the last time I used sandpaper?  I don’t think I have ever used a chisel or plane.  The instructor was patient enough not to lose her cool until both of us completed the whole process.  I planed the lid too much that it became somewhat too loose.  Well, at least it looked decent rectangular.  There must be a reason why I didn’t become a master craftsman.

After the assignment the instructor showed us around in the studio.  As shown above, every student has his/her own workspace.  

The tools were neatly organized within reach of everybody. 

It was Sunday, but several students were working on his/her projects.  According to the instructor, it is not uncommon that students come to the studio on weekend like this. Do you enjoy studying here? I asked the students.  Their response was a powerful “yes!”

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