Ono City in Hyogo Prefecture is sometimes known as Soroban no Machi, translated as Abacus City in English. This area has been a major production centre for abacuses for many centuries now, known for their use of high quality wood and exceptional craftsmanship.
Visiting the workshop of Fujii Works in Ono City, you can see some of this woodworking prowess from the local area being carried forward in to their own work. Their house and workshop, both situated next to each other, are quiet in surrounding and offer a simplicity that matches the functional works of art that they produce inside their studio.
Kenichi Fujii starts by cutting the wood to size, later using the lathe before his his wife, Minako, treats the objects with various oils and lacquer. The lacquer, a natural liquid extracted from the Urushi tree, is painstakingly applied in numerous layers on to the vessels, waiting for each to dry before repeating the process and adding a new layer. Minako checks the humidity on a regular basis, making sure the lacquer and wood dry at a similar rate to one another.
To give you a better idea and appreciation for their work we asked talented Japanese photographer Issei Kashiwagi to photograph them at their studio in Ono. What’s come of it is one of our best features to date, guiding us through many of the processes that they would go through in the studio on a daily basis. We’re really in awe of their work and hope you are too.
If you’re interested in purchasing some of their crafted objects, we have a considered selection available to purchase in the shop. Enjoy.