Trees Tell Us about the Geological Features 500 Years Ago and Climate Changevol.5
Workshop Tokati no kinoutuwa Sasaki Kaname There are many wood craftsmen in Hokkaido. But how many buy different kinds of logs and let them season for years? Mr. Sasaki creates expressive dishes in the Tokachi area.
I thought about making wood samples at first.
In 2002, we opened a workshop at the schoolhouse of the former Nakasato Elementary School. For 20 years up to then, Sasaki Kaname, who was born and raised in Makubetsu Town, had worked at the local wood processing factory. The factory mainly handled wood that could be easily supplied and processed, such as Japanese oak. Trees for wood chips were collected from the natural forest, but were mixed with unidentified trees. Mr. Sasaki thought wood samples of various colors and characters for comparison would be interesting.
Nevertheless, the wood processing factory closed down, due to the import of low-priced woods. Mr. Sasaki thought it would be difficult to obtain wood from Hokkaido, so he collected many trees as wood samples from the local mountains and created a business to sell them to woodworkers. As rare types of woods were collected, Mr. Sasaki began to gain the attention of experts of woodwork techniques and wood craftsmen.
Before long, also Mr. Sasaki’s interest to “create things” increased. As the wooden dishes he made at home began to gain recognition at design competitions, he decided to establish a workshop which specialized in different kinds of wood from Hokkaido. “Even if I keep making dishes with the same shape and size, they are not the same since the annual rings and hues of the wood vary. Nothing can compare with this exciting job,” Mr. Sasaki smiled.
Feel the life in the tree knot, learn about the Tokachi River from driftwood.
“Since knots were too hard to process, they were once considered a nuisance in industrial use timber. However, they are now popular in craftwork,” Mr. Sasaki relates. Originally involved in the lumber industry, he is blessed with a good supply route for wood. Mr. Sasaki knows the essential nature of trees, and so he can create dishes with a sense of live, as if one annual ring springs from another.
Using driftwood from Tokachi River is also characteristic art of Mr. Sasaki. “More than 80% of the driftwood found on the river shore is Japanese elm. When applying a stain, it is difficult to dye the inner part. Driftwood found in the earth layer approx. 500-600 years old at the Tokachi River is naturally dyed by reaction with iron in the river and the tannin of the wood. Since the same type of wood from the Satsunai River does not become the same color, it is said that the wood is dependent on the geologic features and the components of the river water.”
Mr. Sasaki and his son, Makoto, a graphic designer, are the creators. How many decades will it take to change that huge mountain of wood into the world as dishes?”
Workshop Tokati no Kinoutuwa
Manabiya Nakasato, Nakasato 155, Makubetsu Town, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido
297-24 Satsunaikasuga-machi, Makubetsu Town, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido
Hours: 11:00 to 17:00
Closed: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays