鍛冶屋さんのこと The Blacksmith

小値賀でただ一人の鍛冶屋さんを訪ねました。The reason I visited the only blacksmith in the island is this: my bamboo craft knife that I made my dad give up was too big for me, Tokuzo san (my teacher) said. He brought out a short sword from his grandfather and told me to have a blacksmith cut it short. “I can’t do it”, I said. “It’s a keepsake”. “Nah, it’s OKAY” said the master.

The sword and many gifts of the day. 脇差とその日の大島での頂き物たち
The sword and many gifts of the day. 脇差とその日の大島での頂き物たち

目下、竹細工の最初にして最大の難関ひご作りを練習中の私。父から横取りした竹切り包丁を携え、師匠の住む大島に通っています。先日師匠の徳蔵さんが「そのナタあんたには大きすぎじゃろ」と道具小屋から出してきたのが、徳蔵さんのじいちゃんの脇差。柄こそ代えてあるものの、切羽や口金もそのままついています。これを鍛冶屋に頼んで短く切ってもらえと言う。じいちゃんの形見にそんなことできるかいと首を振るも「よかったい」と切って捨てられ、恐縮しつつそれを持って松本鍛冶屋へ向かった次第です。

Matsumoto san, the blacksmith, had a stroke a few months ago and is currently off work for rehabilitation. But he said cutting the blade was easy enough. I thought I was getting just one, but two days later when I went to pick it up, there they were — two small knives, shiny as new. One was longer and had a feature that any bamboo knife should have. The other was made from the cut-off piece of metal; “I made it for fun. Might be good enough for sharpening pencils”. Looks good enough for gutting a chicken.

脇差の部品は徳蔵さんに返しますthe little parts of the sword are going back to Tokuzo san
脇差の部品は徳蔵さんに返しますthe little parts of the sword are going back to Tokuzo san

松本さんは去年の暮れに脳梗塞で倒れ、現在リハビリのため休業中。ですが、刀を切るくらいならできると引き受けれてくれ、二日後に「できましたよ」との知らせ。取りに行くと、使い込まれて錆びていた剣が、ピカピカのふたつの小刀に変身しています。一つは長め、ちゃんと竹切り用に、柄に近い部分が刃なしになっています。もうひとつは「鉛筆でも削ればよかと思って作ってみました」が、鉛筆にはもったいない立派な小刀。さすがです。

Blacksmithing is incredibly cool. Any artisanry owes its beauty to the fact that it has been making necessities inIMG_0905
human life for a long time, and I feel an artisan’s workspace manifests more than just the products. Matsumoto san’s little shack is cluttered with heavy machines and tools. Various tongs are hung on the wall, and on top of them there are many anchor-like metalworks. He said they were keys of the merchants’ storehouses in the Edo era. It was a New Year’s tradition for Ojika blacksmiths (or those in the former Hirado domain) to make one on the 2nd of January, tie a bag of salt and rice on it, and offer sake. Then, they could start working in peace.

ところで鍛冶屋の作業場はほんとうに格好いい。暮らしの必需品を作り続けてきた職人芸の美しさは作業場にあり、とか思います。松本さんの仕事場も古い機械と工具でぎっしり。奥の壁際に一段下がった一角があり、一

鍛冶屋の初仕事はこの鍵作りから。Making of these keys is the first work of the year
鍛冶屋の初仕事はこの鍵作りから。Making of these keys is the first work of the year

面は火床に、もう一面は金床とスプリングハンマー(エアハンマー?)に面しています。上の壁にはいろんな種類のはさみがかかっていて、その更に上には細い三つ又のフックのような、でも左手がいびつに曲がった錨みたいなものがずらり。江戸時代の商家の倉の鍵だそうで、小値賀の鍛冶屋は正月二日に必ず作るとか。これに塩と米を入れた熨斗を水引で括り付け、お神酒をあげて初仕事。どうやら平戸藩の鍛冶屋のしきたりらしい。13年前に小値賀に戻ってきてから去年まで欠かさず作っていた。ので13個。職への感謝と誇りが漂ってきます。

There used to be several blacksmiths in Ojika, but none of their sons, or anyone, learned the art. Matsumoto san is almost 80. If he closes his business, farmers around the island are in trouble. And it’s sad to see the craftsmanship disappear. Here’s a business that would surely be appreciated. Seriously, any takers?

昔は数軒あった鍛冶屋も、跡継ぎがおらず皆廃業してしまいました。もう80に手が届く松本さん、「辞めるわけにもいかんとです」とちょっと疲れ気味に笑います。農家も多い小値賀、鍛冶屋がいなくなると不便だし、何より寂しい哀しい。誰かいないのかなあ、こんなに格好いい仕事なんだけど。二本の刀を握りしめてため息をつくこのごろです。

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