From 19th to 22th January 2012, IWCS went to Tokyo, Japan for a 4-day tour. On the first two days, we visited the “Wood & Plywood Museum” and interviewed the famous Japanese wood carver- Ikkyō Kitazawa. During the rest of our tour, we attended and recorded a Japanese national woodcraft competition for the juniors. After witnessing the keen and fascinating competition, we eventually obtained the whole picture of the Japanese wood education and its strategy.
The feature of the museum is not only the display of wood and natural forestry reources, but also the manufacturing process of plywood. There is also a special ordered veneer lathe presenting how logs, regardless of the size, can be sliced into extremely thin veneer. This greatly improved machine has not been widely used until recent 10 years, and it has dramatically changed the lumber and plywood industry and provided a much more efficient use of wood.
In spite of the industrial use of wood, we were very interested in Japanese woodcraft. Therefore, we arranged to have a brief interview with Mr. Kitazawa- the master of sedan carving.
The Japanese sedan, as known as “dashi,” serves as the vehicle to transport the deity between shrines during festivals. Each dashi resembles a miniature building with a roof, walls, pillars…etc. The 71-year-old wood carver Mr. Kitazawa specializes in designing and engraving the surrounding walls of dashi. Every piece of work carries a historical myth or tale. And Beech wood is usually chosen as the main material because it represents nobility and privilege.
Last year, 311 earthquake stroke Japan severely. Therefore, the “12th National Woodcraft Competition for Juniors” set the contest theme as “earthquake-proof cupboard.” 12 regional champions gathered in Tokyo for a total 4-hour-competition. The details of requested items for the cupboard design were announced merely one week before the contest. It required not only creativity but practical skills to complete the work.
Although coming from different regions and backgrounds, every student had an enthusiastic attitude towards woodcraft. This was supported by an ideal and practical education system. As the chief judge Professor Ozaki Shiro had told us, “The competition goal is to make students understand the meaning of wood use, and furthermore, to improve human life by the correct and efficient use of wood.”
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By RuAn Hsu