Kosudo town where old tools become deities
Old tools, machines and also parts of those, which fulfilled their roles, hold sprits and become deities. They transform their shapes and spring up throughout the town. This sculpture series was executed in Water and Land Niigata Art festival 2018.
〈Mr. Nagai’s power loom, shuttle box〉- Kosudo town used to be flourishing in the weaving industry since the Edo period, especially the weaving called “Kosudo stripe” had a name for its sturdiness. Mr. Nagai is the last weaving craftsman in Kosudo and the only person who can weave Kosudo stripe today. There are still some old power looms in his factory. A couple of the looms are made by Toyota Industries Corporation from which Toyota Motor Corporation developed and according to Mr. Nagai, Toyota’s looms are the best in the business. This shuttle box is for holding shuttles that carry weft yarn. They could use some different colors of weft in one weaving by connecting these boxes together.
〈Mr. Nagai’s power loom, pedal lever〉- The power looms were introduced to Mr. Nagai’s factory around the beginning of the 20th century. It increased the amount of Kosudo’s weaving production dramatically which had used to be made by hand work. After WW2, because of the national policy in Japan, most factory broke old power looms and bought new ones. However, Mr. Nagai’s parents were against the policy, as it turned out that we can still see some fairly rare old power looms in his factory which are hard to find anywhere else. Moving these levers up and down switches over warp yarn and makes the shuttle track opened.
〈Uchiyama family’s garden shears〉- Ms. Uchiyama is working for Café Wakaba in Kosudo. Her grandfather used to use these garden shears to maintain his Japanese azaleas. The curved one is used for pruning and the other one is for trimming. According to Ms. Uchiyama, her grandfather was a person who adheres to high-quality of tools. These shears are believed to be made in Sanjo that is very famous for the metallurgical industry and its high standard of product quality since the Edo period. The pruning shears is engraved with “the best in Japan”. These shears had sit in a warehouse since he passed away 5 years ago.
〈Hamaya’s record player unit〉- Hamaya was established as a liquor shop in Kosudo over 100 years ago. After WW2, the grandfather of the current owner saw a growing need for electric appliances and started selling them at the shop. It went very well first, but as the Japanese economic miracle drew to an end, the sales of appliances were drug down and he stopped dealing in it. This record player unit is one of the stock that had been kept in a storage for around 60 years. This was a leading-edge product that could play 4 different types of records.
〈Kobayashi family’s kick scooter〉- Ms. Midori Kobayashi, the owner of CAFÉ GEORG in Kosudo. She used to use this kick scooter to take her daughter to and from the nursery school. Because the scooter was designed childish and painted in vivid pink, she said that she felt little bit embarrassed when she had to ride the scooter alone around the city on the way. So she suggested using a car or something else to her daughter, but that was rejected because she really enjoyed riding it. The handle got broken after they used it for 2 years.
〈Takeda bike shop’s “Supercar bicycle”, speed meter〉- In the late 70’s, “Supercar bicycle” made waves across the country and captured the hearts of all boys. The bicycles were equipped with many functions, such as multiple shifts, blinkers and some other light gimmicks. As those were getting more popular, the equipment became fancier. Speed meter, anemometer, pop-up light, hydraulic disc brake, H shifter, etc. This speed meter was connected with the front wheel. As the front wheel spins, the wire revolves and move the needle of the meter.
〈Takeda bike shop’s “Supercar bicycle”, bell〉- Mr. Satoshi Takeda is the second generation owner of Takeda bike shop. Although he was also one of the boys who were caught up in “Supercar bicycle”, the bikes were so expensive that he could not buy one. He still likes “Supercar bicycle” and some other old type bikes that are not made or sold today. This bicycle bell is fairly old too. It was attached not on the handle but on the handle post which is not common in Japan. It was coated with shiny blue originally, and someone painted over with black.
〈Kamakuraya’s check writer〉- Kamakuraya has been in business for more than 110 years since Meiji period. This check writer was used to physically print out on check and receipts for the clients. This is a quite old one that you have to type letters one by one and need some power to press it down, so it was getting harder for the old shop owner to use it. After they used it for 17 years, it broke down and they have bought new electronic one which able to type out the numbers all at once.
〈Sagoi clock shop’s mechanical clock〉- Sagoi clock shop has been in business for over 100 years in Kosudo. Quartz clocks that move with batteries became universal in the late 60’s. Before that, most clocks they used were mechanical clocks that move with springs and gear wheels. These parts of a mechanical clock were some leftovers after the shop owner took an 60 years old clock apart to reuse for other clocks, because the clock company doesn’t make any new parts or clocks any more.
〈Ishida family’s mole trap〉- Mr. Takahiro Ishida, the director of this Kosudo ART Project. His great-grandfather was running a bathtub store in Kosudo at first, and to expand his business, he started dealing in merchandise of ironware too. At the beginning, he didn’t have any mole traps in the store, but decided to sell them by neighborhood farmers’ request. There are many rice farms around Kosudo and moles are natural enemies for them because they eat earthworms who benefit soil properties of the farms and they also dig holes and ruin the rice paddies. This mole trap was in rust and old stock in the store.
〈Eimori liquor shop’s EZ cap and bottle handle〉- Eimori liquor shop was launched by the current owner Norio’s grandmother. There was the first big craft beer boom in Japan in 1995. Norio got this beer bottle from his friend in the year and kept it for 23 years. This craft beer is made using German brewing techniques and one of the oldest craft beers in Japan. It is very rare to see this type of beer bottle in Japan that has an EZ cap, the metal handle and the shape of the bottle itself.