KOGEI & Me

Nobuo Gato

我戸宣夫

It is important that the entire region progress together.

Mr. Nobuo Gato, a craftsman of wipe-lacquering (fuki urushi) is the third-generation of a lacquerware merchant, Gato Mikio in the town of Yamanaka in Ishikawa prefecture. He was encouraged by the words of his father, Mikio “ Lacquerware will never disappear ”, and decided to take over the family business. After graduating from high school, he worked for a wholesaler of lacquerware in Nagoya city in order to gain on-the-job training. He came back to his hometown in 1977 and together with his older brother, Akio Gato, they established Gato Mikio Co., Ltd. specializing in the sales of lacquerware. It was a period of transition from wood turning work that their father and grandfather did. As they started the sales business almost from scratch, they had a difficult time finding new customers. Day after day, the brothers kept looking up addresses in the phone book and traveled around going from door to door with a map in hand. One of the most rewarding experiences he got through these sales activities was that he got to listen to the actual voice of the customers which in turn gave him ideas to make new products, which met the needs of the times. Additionally, his sense of gratitude for local craftsmen in this production region of lacquerware has grown. In the production of Yamanaka lacquerware, where all levels of workers are respected, no idea will materialize without the help of these craftspeople in every step of the production. “We all share good and bad times. There is no point being a solo winner. It is important that the entire region progress together,” says Mr. Gato. His voice expresses a strong hope for the future of Yamanaka.

産地全体みんなで良くなるように

拭漆職人の我戸宣夫さんは、我戸幹男商店の三代目。父であり二代目の幹男さんの「漆器はなくならん」という言葉に後押しされ、家業を継ぐことを決意した。工業高校を卒業後に名古屋の漆器問屋で修行した宣夫さんは、1977年に、山中へと戻り、兄の彰夫さんと共に漆器の販売会社を設立。得意先の開拓はゼロからのスタートだったため、苦労したという。兄弟二人で電話帳で売り先を調べては、地図を片手に方々を訪ねてまわる日々。そうして実際に顧客の声を聞き、時代に合う商品を企画することが仕事のやりがいでもあった。産地の人びとへの感謝も募った。分業制の山中漆器づくりにおいて、アイデアを形にできるのは、各工程の職人の協力あってこそ。「良いも悪いも共にする。ひとり勝ちしても意味がない。産地みんなで良くなることが大切です」と話す宣夫さんの声には、山中の未来を願う強い気持ちが込められていた。

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