A house that looked like a rustic village home was the birth place of Tanegashima scissors, designated traditional craft products in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Upon entering, I got the sense that history lurked in every corner and that the house itself was an important cultural asset.
A scissor artisan named Mr. Umeki told me that the most important feature of the scissors is the twist in the blades.
"Because of the twist, the scissor blades sharpen with use.
Which is why they can last a lifetime."
I understood these words when I had a closer look at the blades.
They weren't parallel like typical scissors, but instead twisted together at a single point.
As you close your fingers, this point softly slides down to the tip of the scissors.
Each blade sharpens the other.
I was so impressed that I just blurted out, "Wow!"
As Mr. Umeki went about crafting the scissors, the expression I observed was one of pure focus.
Every step is completed by hand, so there are no do-overs in this process.
"Adding the twist is very difficult," explained Mr. Umeki, who looked truly pleased when the process went well.
Mr. Umeki's workshop makes Tanegashima kitchen knives in addition to the scissors.
He told me that the knives do not have any unique feature like the scissors, so everything rests on the skill of the craftsperson.
Their uniqueness comes from the artisan's techniques, including how the knives are tempered and sharpened.
This was my first experience seeing a blacksmith's shop. Watching their careful, focused approach to each step made me think about my approach to my own work.
Had I been this conscientious about each undertaking?
In a workshop where they craft products that last a lifetime, I felt like I received an important lesson.