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TOKI MINOYAKI STORY
Story27
Pride and dedication to focus on bowl making
Syunzan Seito Limited Company
Masahiro Kato
春山製陶有限会社 加藤 雅憲
Profile
Syunzan Seito Limited Company
Masahiro Kato
187-1 Dachicho, Toki city, Gifu, 〒509-5401
TEL +81-572-59-8488
Syunzan Seito.
Syunzan Seito
A bowl to be enjoyed by all
Since the Meiji era (1868-1912), the mass production of Minoyaki has progressed along with the technical innovation of kilns and the division of labor has been promoted in each region, such as Sake server making in Oroshi-cho, Plate making in Hida, and Japanese tea cup making in Izumi. Syunzan Seito produces bowls for commercial use and is located in the town of Dachi, which is the largest producer of bowls in Japan. The company was established in 1958. Mr. Haruo Kato, who was born in Kamo-gun, Gifu Prefecture and came to Dachi as an adopted son of a potter and trained at the pottery to then opened his own kiln. Since the beginning, he has produced only bowls with the belief that Dachi represents bowl making. At the time, he was making bowls of blue and white ceramics with leaves painted in pale indigo but Haruo was concerned about only selling to a few distributors. “I want more people to use them,” he said, and with this in mind, he started manufacturing new types of bowls.
Syunzan Seito
Pursuing ease of use by trial and error
After thinking deeply with Masanori, the second generation president, they came up with the “Nishiki” lidded bowl, which is painted with vivid red, gold, blue, and green colors. “After looking at a variety of dishes from all over the country and thinking about patterns, we decided to use traditional brocade, which never goes out of style,” said Masanori. There are three types of designs: Cherry blossoms, Peonies, and flowers and birds, which have been popular for a long time. He introduced copperplate transfer, which had become the mainstream method for mass-produced dyed porcelain. When the finished product was presented to a distributor, the reaction was positive. “It’s rare for a manufacturer to be able to produce a brocade bowl with such high quality”. Many restaurants began to use them. However, just as it seemed to be getting off the ground, there were problems such as the bowls were breaking easily and chipping. Restaurants use and wash the same dishes several times a day, so they need to be stronger than those for home use. In addition, they need to be easy to stack and easy to carry. The goal was to create a bowl that was strong, light and convenient to use. The first step was to review the soil from scratch. He consulted with his business partner, a clay manufacturing company, and adjusted the blend of silica and feldspar. Every time there was a problem, such as cracking or melting in the kiln, he changed the composition and firing temperature to arrive at the ideal porcelain clay. After revising the shape of the bowl many times to make it easy to stack, he finally completed a bowl that he was satisfied with. Since then, Syunzan Seito has won the trust of the public for its lidded bowls.
Syunzan Seito
A lidded bowl to enjoy your every meal
Even now, after the Showa and Heisei eras, with its trendy design and comfort of use, orders for this product continue to come in. The use of this product by chain restaurants also helped to establish Syunzan Seito’s position. “The second and third generations of restaurants have taken over, and I was worried that they would stop using our products, but they chose our products because they said they were easy to use,” he said. Currently, Masanori works with four employees to manufacture the products. There have been changes with the introduction of machines over time but the products remain the same. After molding in the workshop, the pieces are baked at 800 degrees Celsius. The underpainting is done by “pad printing,” in which a silicon pad is pressed against an intaglio plate on which paint has been printed to transfer the design onto the fabric. Although most of the work is done by machine, he never neglects to check each piece with his eyes to make sure there are no defects. The fine lines that require precision are drawn by hand, not by machine. For overglaze painting, he switched from copper plate transfer to transfer paper. The paper, which looks like a sticker with a pattern on it, is pasted on, glazed and fired at 1300 degrees Celsius to bake the pattern. In this way, the company produces about 60,000 bowls a year. Nishiki’s lidded bowls are most attractive when they are served with food. When it is presented in front of you, its elegant appearance will draw your attention. There is a sense of anticipation by the lid hiding the meal which brings surprise and joy when it is opened. Only a bowl with a lid can make a meal many times more enjoyable.
Syunzan Seito
Syunzan Seito
Wishing to pass the skill into the future
Today, the division of labor is in decline and while many potteries are creating a wide range of products to develop new sales channels, Syunzan Seito has focused solely on the production of Nishiki lidded bowls. “I always wanted to try something new but the skills I had developed were more promising and most of all, I wanted to keep my father’s will of focusing only on bowls”. In recent years, he has continued to develop his business in OEM, producing bowls with restaurant logos and family crests and distributing his products to Japanese restaurants overseas in Singapore and S. Korea. “Our bowl is second to none and I believe it has a long future. I want to preserve this technique somehow. So, if there is someone who is willing to succeed the business, I’m always eager to teach. Although there are some concerns, including the issue of a successor, Masanori keeps his head up. With faith and pride in his heart, Masanori will continue to make bowls.
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