能作|新しい感性で鋳物の未来を切り拓く(高岡銅器)

NOUSAKU|Open up the future of casting with a new sensibility (Takaoka Casting)

NOUSAKU is a cast metal manufacturer founded in 1916 in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, a town known for craftmanship. Based on the casting technology that has been handed down in Takaoka for over 400 years, it has been releasing a series of highly designed metal works with a new sensibility. Its simple yet sophisticated designs are sure to attract many people's attention.

 

Tradition is a continuous innovation

The manufacture of copperware has been active in Takaoka City since the Edo period. NOUSAKU, a long-established casting manufacturer has more than 100 years of history here, and continues to challenge new possibilities of casting while cherishing the history and tradition of Takaoka casting.

Casting is a manufacturing process that molten metals is poured into a mold to form an object of the desired shape. NOUSAKU has been manufacturing cast metals, the final products of casting process, for Buddhist altars, tea ceremony utensils, and flower vases since 1916 using the casting technology that has been handed down in Takaoka.

While it started as a subcontract factory, the business has completely changed since 2002 when Katsuji Nousaku became the president. After studying design and camera at Osaka University of Arts, he worked as a cameraman for a major newspaper publisher before joining NOUSAKU in 1984. 18 years of honing his skills as a casting craftsman eventually led him to think, "I want to break away from subcontracting and engage in a business that has more visibility on customers”.

Therefore, he started to develop original products under NOUSAKU brand, taking advantage of his technical skills, knowledge of casting properties and material characteristics, and design capability that he had cultivated over the years as a craftsman. Through a process of trial and error, he arranged brass handbells into modern wind chimes familiar to Japanese people, which turned out to be a big hit.

This triggered further development of new products that fit the modern lifestyle, such as interior goods and tableware. In addition in recent years, the company has been working on manufacturing that goes beyond its field. In 2014, focusing on the antibacterial properties of tin and its ability to bend, it entered the field of medical devices.

President Nousaku's credo is "Tradition is a continuous innovation”. If you just stubbornly follow tradition, it will become obsolete. Through continuous innovation, it becomes new tradition that can be passed on to the next generation.

With this aspiration in mind, NOUSAKU continues to take on the challenge of researching new materials and technologies and developing new products.

 

Approaches to Sustainable Manufacturing

In the green sand casting method traditionally used in Takaoka, a small amount of water and clay is pressed around a wooden mold. Unlike other casting methods, the green sand casting method does not require firing or chemical treatment. Also, the sand to form a mold can be used over and over again, so it is considered sustainable.

NOUSAKU produces many products using this technique. Despite its many advantages, it makes the mold very fragile because it is just made of pressed sand. For this reason, skilled craftsmen prepare each product by hand, taking into consideration the shape of the product and the temperature and humidity of the day. This is a feat that can only be accomplished with advanced technology.

Recently, the studio has also introduced the silicone casting method, which is suitable for finer expression. The silicone molds can be used repeatedly and do not emit dust or waste sand, making it possible to manufacture products in an environmentally clean manner.

In addition to manufacturing and sales, NOUSAKU is also involved in tourism to convey the spirit and skills of the artisans. The foundry was relocated in 2017, and visitors can now tour the fonndry and experience making tin drinking cups, small plates, and other castings. It also has a café and a store where you can enjoy meals made with local ingredients using NOUSAKU utensils. It plays a role in passing on Takaoka's traditional craft, Takaoka casting, to the next generation.

 

Infinite Possibilities of 100% Tin Products

NOUSAKU is also known for developing the world's first "bendable tableware" made of 100% tin.

Tin is a metal that does not oxidize easily and has high antibacterial properties. For this reason, tin has long been used for drinking and tea utensils, as it is said that water in a tin vessel will not go bad and that it mellows the taste of Japanese Sake.

Since tin is very soft, some of tin products are finished by mixing other metals to increase the strength.

However, NOUSAKU wanted to "dare to do something that no one else was doing" and took advantage of its advanced technology to take on the challenge of creating tableware and vases made of 100% tin. This task was challenging, however, through an innovative thinking they created tinware with the advantage of being bendable.

The "KAGO” series of bendable tinware created based on this innovative idea has gained popularity in Japan and abroad.

Although it is called "KAGO" (basket in Japanese), it can be used freely. It can be a basket for fruits and breads, a wine holder, a flower vase, a magazine rack, etc. You can change the shape according to what you want. It is recommended not only for daily use but also as a gift.

Let’s have a look at this new type of craftwork that combines the techniques cultivated by forerunners with modern sensibilities.

 

NOUSAKU

NOUSAKU is a casting manufacturer founded in 1916 in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture. NOUSAKU has infused new sensibilities into the casting technology that has been handed down in Takaoka for over 400 years, and has developed products fitting into modern lifestyles. It has been attracting attention both in Japan and abroad for its innovative idea, including “KAGO” series of bendable vessels made of 100% tin, which makes the most of the soft characteristics of tin.

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