Takeshi Yoshizawa

But You Never Once Honoured Me.

Who Made What?

At the birth of Mingei – folkcrafts- movement a century ago, the founders were amazed at the beauty daily utilitarian objects possessed. The beauty or even value usually went unnoticed. Few of these products, naturally, bore the makers’ names. Why bother? If it’s not something to be appreciated.

The mingei fellows praised the humble, plain and honest beauty these objects possessed. They thought it was exactly the representation of the maker’s non-egoistic mind.

This notion of anonymity might have given out the message that these makers were just happy and content with being able to make what they do without seeking external validation.

Is that so? Before jumping to the romantic conclusion, there is someone’s story we need to listen to.

Takeshi Yoshizawa
Takeshi Yoshizawa laughs

Takeshi Yoshizawa is a koto, a wooden musical instrument, craftsman. This instrument is typically 13-stringed, and the players can produce more varieties than 13 notes by moving the bridges which hold the strings to produce codes when strings are picked.

One of his clients, a koto teacher, requested one with more strings. In the end, he was able to meet the request and the 27-stringed koto was born. With that 27-stringed koto, she was able to produce wider-ranged notes. She was a skilled player, and the koto complimented and enhanced her artistry.

One day, she called up Takeshi and said she was thinking of creating another koto, possibly with more strings. At the table with her proposed plan, Takeshi said “Well, you say you create the koto. But was it so? Every time I’ve been to your concerts and you introduce the 27-stringed koto as your design and creation, have you once mentioned my name? You never once honoured me and my work.”

His answer was no. She understood.

As with anything, there is someone or something that enabled our comforts, joy and betterment of life. We receive these blessings daily. Do they ask for recognition? If yes, then great! Let us give it in the most honest, heartfelt, sincere way. If they don’t, then let us seek their trace and honour it to the best of our ability.

Tools for Koto
Tools for Koto

See Takeshi Yoshizawa’s work

Photos courtesy of Sayaka Takizawa


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