“Odashima Guitars” - Visiting the guitar studio in the forest.
I had the fortune of meeting a guitar craftsman living in the small town of "Wassamu" located in northern Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido. His name is Naoto Odashima and he runs the guitar studio "Odashima Guitars."
Mr. Odashima, who specializes in jazz guitar, now spends his days making guitars in his workshop located in the, now closed, "Seiwa" elementary school building.
The old school building gives visitors a sense of grandeur standing isolated, surrounded by nature.
His house is located only a short distance away, but it seems Mr. Odashima has spent many a night in this studio.
Born in Iwate Prefecture, Mr. Odashima went abroad to the United States to study guitar making. He moved to Hokkaido seven years ago and has been crafting his unique sound here ever since.
His passion for the guitar, along with his high quality of work, have earned him the trust of many musicians and specialty shops.
Traces of the elementary school still remain throughout the workshop.
Large amount of lumber are stored on the second floor of the workshop.
The primary material used in production is lumber from Hokkaido.
Trees in Hokkaido are highly valued by craftsman for their beautiful tree ring patterns, caused by the naturally cold soils they grow in.
Spruce in particular is valued above all other woods in hokkaido because of the incredible resonance the wood provides.
Mr. Odashima had long been attracted by the natural beauty, climate, and natural resources of Hokkaido, leading to his eventual decision to move and make his living here.
When he first moved in to his new house in Hokkaido, he found himself without friends in the midst of one of Hokkaido's legendary snow storms. Some days he was unable to even leave his home.
But soon after that the friendly people of his new town began to help support his business. They started off by letting him use the old schools science room as a workshop. The production gradually expanded to the principle's office and staff room. Kids from town would come to visit and watch him work, and soon orders for guitars were coming in from outside Hokkaido.
On the day I visited he was just finishing a new guitar. The final steps in his crafting process are all by hand; repeatedly checking the sound quality, the shape, and the materials used. Standing in the room, feeling the mental strain of intense concentration in the air, and seeing the quality of work and attention to detail put into each guitar left me with a deep sense of admiration for the craft.
"Hopper II" is made from Hokkaido spruce, and will be available at the store String-phonic (ストリングフォニック) located in Osaka. (The guitar is currently on hold.)
Location: Osaka Norin Hall 2nd floor, 2-6 3-Chome, Minamisenba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Construction requires knowledge of the raw materials, woodworking, design and construction, color and finishing, and acoustical engineering. All this brought together by one pair of hands with the finest attention to detail at every level to make a single instrument. The birth of an instrument is a complex and beautiful process, and it's only just the beginning of the journey.
Here's a little taste of the sound of Odashima Guitars. Check out the video below:
(Link redirects to Youtube)
※Video provided by:
ギターショップ ラムジーズ (Ramzys Guitar Shop)
Location: 1st floor, 2-8 Minami 14-Jyo Nishi 7-Chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Performance by Masaru Yamaki
My meeting with Mr. Odashima was an incredible experience in many ways. He was incredibly knowledgeable and an excellent craftsman, but he is much more than that. Seven years spent in nature honing his craft have given him a unique character and way of thinking, which you can hear in the sound of each of his guitars.
You can find a collection of Mr Odashima's guitars and his personal blog on the "Odashima Guitars" homepage below. His guitars are also featured in exhibitions outside of Hokkaido, so if you love guitars, or simply want to hear his unique sound, be sure to check the site to find out where they will be featured.
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Itsuki)