KOGEI & Me

Masahide Shioji

塩士正英

I get a sense of fulfilment every day.

Mr. Masahide Shioji is the third head of the family of “Tohachiya” which is a manufacturer and vendor of Wajima lacquerware, called “Nushiya” in the region. After graduating from university, he began his apprenticeship to take over the family business and gradually he became devoted to the works of artisans. However, his father told him to do works related to being a merchant, not an artisan as he was concerned because the customary role of the head of “Nushiya” in Wajima was in sales and product planning of lacquerware, and actual process of manufacturing should be entrusted to the artisans. Nevertheless, contrary to his father’s intention, Mr. Shioji continued to practice his craft while staying in Tokyo for half of the month to engage in sales tasks. Till today he still visits his customers such as Japanese style fine restaurants to take orders of lacquerware for professional-use and for every order, he takes care of the finishing process of painting called “Uwa-nuri” (top coating) with his own hands. The most important thing in his work is to listen to the voice of people who use the actual products on site. With that belief, Mr. Shioji has been working for many years to make the strongest lacquerware in Japan. “Through my work I think about my customers and with that I get a sense of fulfilment every day. I would be grateful if the sturdiness of our products is recognised as a Tohachiya brand, beyond the general evaluation as a Wajima-nuri.” says Mr. Shioji. The uncompromising quality of his products provide a beautiful background which flatters food.

毎日達成感を得ている

塩士正英さんは、輪島塗の製造と販売を手がける塗師屋「藤八屋」の三代目。大学卒業後、家業を引き継ぐための修行を始めた正英さんは、次第に職人の仕事に熱中していった。しかし父親からは「職人の仕事はせず、商人になるように」と諭されたという。輪島での「塗師屋」の役割は、漆器を販売するための営業と商品企画。実際につくる工程は職人に委ねるのが習わしだったからである。それでも父親の意に反して、正英さんは、月の半分は東京で営業をしながら、職人としての技を磨き続けた。現在も、割烹やレストランへ出向いて業務用漆器の製造を受注し、上塗りという最終の塗りの仕上げを自らの手で行う。仕事をする上で大切なのは、実際に製品を使う現場の声に耳を傾けること。そうして正英さんが長年取り組んできたのが、日本一強い漆器づくりだ。「お客様のことを考えながらする仕事には毎日達成感があります。輪島塗だからという評価を超えて、藤八屋の品物だから丈夫だと認めていただけたら嬉しい」。その妥協ないものづくりが、料理を引き立てる美しい背景となっている。

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