|Dr. Tagami said he spent|
about two weeks on this
|Hard to forget seeing |
something like this!
Anyways, only when I pulled up to Waraku did I realize that the accommodation, the medical practice, and the mother-of-pearl accessories that I'd spotted in select gift shops had anything to do with each other. After Dr. Tagami beckoned me out of the rain and into the foyer, I immediately spotted the figurines and carved shells from last year's cultural festival on the counter.
|A hunting knife with a handle|
fashioned from Yakusugi wood
and a Yakushika deer antler.
What about the tools? Do you need special tools for carving things like this?
He says the equipment is a lot like a dentist's drills, just less expensive. Would I like to see? He invites me to walk either through the doctor's office or around the veranda to his little workshop.
|Clients often bring materials|
available to them.
His work is presently available in two shops: Honu (in Mugyo), and also in Hirauchi. (Oh dear, the name of the place has slipped my mind. I'll post it soon!) But he likes to take special requests, and he's excited when people come in to learn how to do it themselves.
|I have to admit, I would never|
have guessed he's a doctor,
until he started working!
He offers to show me and asks what shape I would like. Uh. . . how about a star? He searches around for an appropriate piece of shell and turns the fan on. Then the magic starts. He works quickly and methodically, exchanging drill bits and drills and polishers, and proving that the chaotic-looking workshop is in fact highly ordered. His hands do not shake or falter as his fingers work right next to the cutting edge. A few minutes later he has produced a highly polished star.
|Accessories made by Dr. Tagami. He made the star while I watched.|
A simple piece like this, he explains, might sell for 500 yen in a shop, but he can't give a set price or time frame for clients without knowing what sort of pieces they hope to make. It's obvious he's not in this for the money, though. Anyways, the workshop is small, so only one person can work at a time, and he recommends that no more than two folks visit together.
Reservations are not necessary, but it's a good idea, because, of course, he has his other business, too. ^^
I was amazed by the precision and speed with which Dr. Tagami worked, and I'm excited to think up my own idea and try my own hand. Two words: DIY and creativity. Mother-of-pearl craft may not have a long history in Yakushima, but perhaps the tradition is just getting started.
Yakushima Minshuku WaRaku (屋久島民宿和楽)
Location: Anbo 739-146 (30.3262,130.6575)