Nousaku | 能作

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  Established in 1916 as a Buddhist ornament manufacturer in Takaoka, Nosaku is one of the leading innovators of Takaoka’s metal casting industry, developing products like medical equipment and tableware. They are also known as the innovators of pure tin products – what began as fulfilling an order from a customer for a unique and original tableware eventually turned them into a large producer of cast products in Takaoka.

Nousaku (http://www.nousaku.co.jp)

History of Takaoka metal casting.

 

Metal casting has long been a treasured skill in Japan, dating back several centuries. As it spells “celebrated” or “long-lived metal” in Chinese characters, skilled craftsmen who can cast anything from agricultural tools to religious ornaments were highly revered by local feudal lords.

Takaoka’s history as one of the country’s largest metal casting production centers began in 1611 when the local feudal lord, Toshinaga Maeda, recruited 7 skilled casters and granted them all the necessities – from a plot of land downtown by a stream, casting facilities, to favorable social benefits – in order to strategically turn the rustic agricultural town into a blossoming industrial hub. Located along Toyama Bay that opens to the Sea of Japan in the country’s central region, the town was ideal for transporting both the raw material and finished products from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu and beyond in the south. Thanks to the generous investment from the Maeda family, Takaoka’s casting industry found success at first from making agricultural tools and pots when the country was still unsettled from the unification in 1603, graduating to more ornamental products like religious ornaments, vases and statues in the early 18th century – a period which coincided with the achievement of nation-wide stability and peace. The fine quality and abundant production of premium copper and brass ornamental casting earned Takaoka’s products fame around the country, and the town boasted the largest number of casters in all of Japan by the 18th century.

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When Japan opened to the world in 1868 after 260 years of isolation, Takaoka’s casters eagerly crossed the ocean to showcase their wares at grand expositions overseas. Subsequently, the refined quality and flexible adaptation of Western styles awed the world, making cast products highly in-demand for export.

Today, while large-scale production has shifted to aluminum, fine metal casting skills are still at work in a few medium-scale companies and many small, family-run studios in Takaoka. Here, new generations of the city’s casters continue to produce exquisite, traditional religious brass ornaments, paying homage to their ancestral craftsmanship, yet still moving with the times through innovative new techniques to meet modern needs and styles. In Takaoka, you can discover the latest additions of the city’s cast products – including tin and aluminium tableware – that are refined with centuries-old skills.

 

Craftsmanship

 

There are loosely two processes involved in metal casting: casting and polishing, and in most middle-scale production companies, craftsmen specialize in one of the two. In Takaoka, the age of these craftsmen range from early 20s to 70s, mostly natives of Takaoka. The great proportion of young workers further cements the tradition of casting industry in the city and highlights the continuous importance of this manufacturing sector.

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Casting

 

Many of Takaoka’s metal casting is done with a traditional method using sand-cast, a technique that has been used for 400 years. The process of casting requires strenuous physical work – casters, mostly men with thick muscles, work tirelessly around the sizzling oven stirring and purifying the boiling material, and then carry around heavy sand-and-metal-filled casts before breaking them apart to take the product out. At the same time, even as they make sand casts repeatedly throughout the day, they are the masters of extremely delicate work; sand needs to be packed tight enough to prevent air bubbles but not too tight to make casts that are only a few millimeters thick.

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At first glance, this traditional method may not seem the most efficient, however, it lets the craftsmen experiment with new ideas as it allows them to make new products in small lots easily. In this way, traditional sand casting pushes innovation forward.

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Polishing

 

The polishing process involves taking off dirt, smoothing the surface and applying a finishing polish. Each process is done by hand using specialized polishing equipment, and requires extensive skills to polish evenly. All the products are quality-checked here as well.

Because brass could not be used for cups due to the Food Sanitation Law, they turned to tin; but tableware made of tin alloy already existed at the time. With an ambition to develop something completely new, the designer in charge, Makoto Koizumi, suggested using pure tin, whose characteristic softness gave the product its uniqueness. The product, named “Tincry” after the noise it makes when it is bent, became a huge hit and created a new stream of casting.

Many of their popular line of products are often alternatives to the standard perspective, made in collaboration with great designers or made with a combination of traditional skills and current needs. Reflected perfectly in their name, Nosaku (which is the family name of the owner) continues producing (“saku”) fine (“no”) works. 

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Wind Bell-Slim

¥JPY6,000
   

Wind Bell -Onion

¥JPY6,000
   

Wind Bell -Marumaru

¥JPY5,520
 
 

Wind Bell -Wing

¥JPY6,000
   

Wind Bell -rin

¥JPY5,160
   

Wind Bell -pin

¥JPY4,800
 
 
Nousaku Sake/Sauce Pitcher L

Sake/Sauce Pitcher -L 300ml

¥JPY8,400
   
Sake/Sauce Pitcher -S 150ml

Sake/Sauce Pitcher -S 150ml

¥JPY5,400
   
Nousaku Sake/Sauce Pitcher GoldL

Sake/Sauce Pitcher Gold -L 300ml

¥JPY12,360
 
 
Nousaku Sake/Sauce Pitcher GoldS

Sake/Sauce Pitcher Gold -S 150ml

¥JPY7,800
   
Nousaku sake cup kiki gold

Sake cup -kiki I- 30ml

¥JPY4,800
   
Nousaku sake cup kiki2 gold

Sake cup -kiki II- 40ml

¥JPY4,800
 
 
Nousaku sake cup bamboo gold

Sake cup -bamboo- 50ml

¥JPY6,720
   
Nousaku bamboo sake set

Bamboo Sake Set -hammered

¥JPY36,000
   
Nousaku beer cup 380

Nousaku Beer Cup 380cc

¥JPY9,240
 
 
nousaku_kubilecup

Nousaku kubile Cup 150cc

¥JPY6,000
   
nousaku tumbler najimi

Nousaku Tumbler -NAJIMI 350cc

¥JPY7,200
   
nousaku sake ewer

Nousaku Sake Ewer 380cc

¥JPY15,600
 
 
kuzushitare size S

Nousaku Kuzushi -Tare Size: S, M, L

¥JPY4,200
   
nousaku_chopstick_rest_8

Nousaku Chopstick Rest -"8"- set of 5

¥JPY6,000
   
Nousaku Chopstick Rest -"moon"- set of 5 [Gold]

Nousaku Chopstick Rest -"moon"- set of 5 [Gold]

¥JPY9,120
 
 
Nousaku Cutlery Rest -Auspicious Omens Motif- set of 5

Nousaku Cutlery Rest -Auspicious Omens Motif- set of 5

¥JPY9,600
   
Nousaku KAGO -Square-L

Nousaku KAGO -Square-L

¥JPY14,400
   
Nousaku KAGO -Square-L

Nousaku KAGO -Dahlia- L

¥JPY18,000
 
 
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