April 01, 13 | Chiaki Uzurahashi
"Tokachi Wooden Bowls" - Makubetsu TownEnjoy the look and feel of these lovingly crafted wooden bowls.
Mr Sasaki began renting the closed school to open his "Tokachi Wooden Bowl" workshop in 2002. Currently he is joined by his son, Makoto, in the factory, making it a family business!
The workshop produces simply designed cutlery, wooden bowls, and plates for everyday use. The process makes use of over 30 types of wood, including oak, sen, elm, and ash. Though largely available in the Tokachi region, those that aren't are brought in from around Hokkaido. Of note are the pieces made from Tokachi's valuable bogwood and cobb.
▲ Mr. Sasaki, from Makubetsu Town. Because the factory is located in an old elementary school, occasionally he has visits from old graduates.
Before starting his workshop Mr. Sasaki spent 30 years working at a local lumber company. "During my time at the lumber company I was fascinated by the different colors, textures, and scents of the wood. I make use of all of these qualities in my workshop today."
To learn more about each type of wood, and to help internalize the names, he began his workshop by taking shavings of each type in turn.
They were kind enough to line up a variety of their works for me to see.
The difference in temperature between summer and winter affects the growth of the tree rings, creating a unique look for each wood. The bogwood tree is submerged in high quality river water, which reacts with the tannin and iron in the wood causing a natural dying process to occur. Mr. Sasaki told us that these qualities are what draws him to the work.
▲ Sample flatware. I was surprised at the variety of patterns.
▲ The top and bottom samples are the same wood. From left to right, oak, ash, and elm. The top three samples were bogwood (grown underwater) and the bottom three are from the forest. Perhaps the most unique is the oak, which has a black color if submerged during growth.
Works produced make use of regular dried wood, but they also create special "Green Works" which are made with treated raw wood. The wood used is chosen by Mr. Sasaki himself, who pays close attention to the characteristics of each individual piece. This means that the finished products all have a unique personality.
▲ A walnut funnel bowl.
▲ A sen cafe au lait bowl. Bowls are treated with polyurethane, oil, and lacquer.
▲ Japanese Elm "Green Work." After creation these works go through a drying process which gradually changes their shape.
▲ The lathe is located in an old classroom. There are several steps to the creation process, meaning each piece takes a long time to finish.
▲ After initial spinning the pieces are set in piles to dry. I spotted many works in progress both inside and outside the school.
"The color of the bowls make them a perfect match for salads. Each of our products is designed to be used in everyday life, and hopefully they help add a taste a nature to the household."
The texture of the bowls is also fantastic, and you might find yourself holding them for longer than you need to when you give them a wash! The warmth and beauty of nature shines in these Sasaki family products.
※ Information of the products, as well as upcoming events, available on the factory's website.
※ Works can be viewed in erson at "Hokkaido Hotel," "Tree of Life," and "Sanyoan" a hot spring in Tokachi. You can also shop on the workshop's homepage. (Delivery times vary due to the vessels being handmade.)
● Tokachi Wooden Bowls Workshop
155 Manabiya Nakazato, Makubetsu Town
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Chiaki Uzurahashi)
(Some photographs courtesy of Tokachi Wooden Bowls Workshop)