Nishimura Stone Lanterns: the Workshop
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Work in Progress Nishimura Stone Lanterns' workshop Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Work in Progress
Nishimura Stone Lanterns' workshop
Kyoto, Japan
Measure Once, Cut Twice or something like that -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Measure Once, Cut Twice
or something like that
Almost Done -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/320 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Almost Done

Out on a photo hunt with Paul Barr yesterday, we happened upon a stonecarver's shop, less than 200 yards from the site of the mysterious cut stones I posted about a few days ago. There's a real chance that they're related, though at this point it still seems very strange. (UPDATE: I later asked, and found out that the stones are sort of their overflow inventory.)

The relatively modern (within the last 30 years) workshop is right on the street, but without signage of any type....

Workshop blink and you'll miss it -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Workshop
blink and you'll miss it

There's not much around there... a few houses, a temple, a pet cemetery, and then the road just disappears....

Looking up the Mountain -- Nitenji Temple -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 66 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking up the Mountain

But if you happen to look in as you pass, you see a simple stone-carver's shop...

Looking In -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking In

I later learned that it's the “Nishimura Stone Lantern Shop” (西村石灯呂店), now headed by Kenzo Nishimura, a fourth-generation stone carver born in 1938. His oldest son, Daizo, was born in 1964. Both have achieved official designation as “artisan of Japanese traditional crafts” (工芸伝統士), an honor bestoed on each after their first 20 or so years in the trade.

Tools of the Trade in a thick bed of stone dust -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Tools of the Trade
in a thick bed of stone dust
Just Like My Garage except for the priceless stone lanterns lying around like old paint buckets and also except for the fact that living in Japan, I no longer have a garage -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Just Like My Garage
except for the priceless stone lanterns lying around like old paint buckets
and also except for the fact that living in Japan, I no longer have a garage
Modern, Cutting-Edge Workshop Breakers, Calendar, and Brooms -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Modern, Cutting-Edge Workshop
Breakers, Calendar, and Brooms
Chisels.... Lots of Chisels -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Chisels.... Lots of Chisels
Plans for a lantern that sells for about $90,000 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Plans
for a lantern that sells for about $90,000

Driving back past the workshop after returning to my scooter, we saw that the workmen (likely Mr. Nishimura and his son) had returned from lunch and were busy pounding away with mallet and chisel. We didn't have time to stop, having earlier already lingered as long as our schedule dare allowed, but we intend to return later this week.

I found this link to a video of the elder Nishimura demonstrating stonecarving to a group of video-challenged ladies. (Skip the first minute... I think the lady didn't realize it was filiming.)

This area of Kyoto (kitashirakawa) used to have a lot of stonemason workshops, but over the years the number has dwindeled to three, among them only one (this one) still doing the work by hand.

The Nishimura's sorta-modern workshop was interesting, but stone carving at this site dates back five generations to the Edo period (to at least prior to 1886), and so the areas on either side of it were *magical* for our cameras, littered with generations of lanterns and other stone-carved items.

Continued here...


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Watching the sweet old man tap his hammer, and seeing how slow the work goes: in a lifetime he must have tapped 500,000,000 times…I.

— comment by Howard Messing on December 2nd, 2009 at 10:04pm JST (8 years ago) comment permalink

Hello,
would you let me have Nishimura’s workshop address.
Thanking you in advance
Jim. (Great website)

If you want the location you can see the map link under each photo. The address appears to be “〒606-8293 京都府京都市左京区北白川琵琶町15-1”. —Jeffrey

— comment by Jim Kynes on July 31st, 2015 at 10:08pm JST (2 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting