Monday, October 27, 2008

Crafting in Japan (Part 3)

I am finishing up my trip to Japan by spending two days in Nagoya. If New York City is to Cleveland, then Tokyo would be to Nagoya. While it is a large city, it isn’t as cosmopolitan as Tokyo. There are fewer English speaking assistants here and non-Japanese are more novel than accepted.

After seeing some of the sights, I decided to visit the Nagoya location of Tokyu hands. To my pleasure, it was only 5 floors of a single building. There were still quite a few items to look at but there wasn’t the overwhelming sense of alarm that accompanied the trip to the Shibuya branch in Tokyo.

I primarily decided to walk each aisle and then return to the sections that I wanted to purchase items. There were no Print Gocco items to be found. There were numerous cutting tools that I would have liked but was afraid to bring them home in checked baggage. There were several plastic handled scalpels that looked promising. There was also a pair of scissors that were levered so that a single squeeze would maneuver five separate parallel blades so you could shred paper by using scissors. If you cross cut the shreds then you would have confetti. They had them in a variety of different sized from 5 inch lengths to 18 inch lengths.

There were numerous paper products that raised my interest. There is a decorated masking tape that shows some promise. I know that there is decorated scotch tape products in the U.S. but this masking tape (i.e., paper tape) really caught my eye—especially for scrapbooks or journals. I would think that an adhesive backed paper tape would be more beneficial that an adhesive back plastic product. Another product that caught my eye was a set of adhesive tabs that were cut out in the shape of animals. These were made in Japan but I think that they would really catch on in the U.S.

Finally, I bought some more paper products for my next swap. I also decided to buy some stamps to commemorate the New Year. I believe that 2009 is the year of the Ox and I think that I will send out Happy New Year cards that are based on the Chinese New Year.

Finally, I decided to get a Hanko made while I was on this trip. A Hanko is a carved stamp that is used as a signature in Asian cultures. I had to get my name translated into Kanji characters. Once I was able to do that, I had to find someone willing to make the Hanko for me (a non-Asian). I found a very nice man who was willing to do it for me (and put a rush on the manufacturing of it). Usually, he takes two weeks to carve out the stamp. There are machines that are faster but he has been making Hanko for 52 years and he is a fifth generation Hanko maker. I will use the Hanko to sign my cards and products.

As a thank you, I decided to give him one of my journals that I had case-bound by hand. When I travel, I always carry extra product with me (e.g., extra handmade cards, journals, etc.). I had one journal left so I decided to give it to him as a thank you for rushing my order. He was so moved by my gift, he gave me my Hanko for free. I immediately stamped his journal with my Hanko and expressed that his journal would always signal my first signature. Once he realized what I planned on doing with the Hanko, he was even more grateful for my gift.

I think that I made a new lifetime friend.

1 comment:

fingerstothebone said...

What great stories, about the hanko carvers, the stores. So what were you doing in Japan again (I mean the business part)?