豆腐の旅パート3 目切り Tofu Journey Chapter 3: Cutting Grooves

ほどなくして再び石工さんを訪ねると、見つかったヨキを研いで柄もつけていてくれました。「目切りはやったことはなかけど…」と言いながら、庭に転がっていた石臼をひっくり返してデモンストレーションしてくれます。擦れた目にヨキを当てて頭を金槌でとんとんと叩くと、石が少しずつ削れていきます。「こうやってちょっとずつかれば良かよ」と、手ヨキと「せっと」と呼ばれる石用の金槌を渡してくれました。

ヨキの刃を当ててトントン Following the old lines
ヨキの刃を当ててトントン
Following the old lines

When I went back to visit Yamauchi san, the stone mason, he had the tool ready for use like he had promised before. It’s the shape of a small ax which he had sharpened and attached a handle to. He showed me how to cut the grooves — he had never done it, but he thought it would be simple. Put the blade of the ax along the groove and pound on top with a hammer. “Just do it a little at a time. It’ll be fine.” said Yamauchi san as he smiled and handed me the ax and a hammer.

・・・という話をしながら道具を見せて、再三、徳蔵さんを説得。とうとう「どうなるか分からんけど、やってみるか」と、重い腰をあげました。大根の漬物樽の上で冬を過ごした石臼を持ち出してきます。上の石はまだ目が残っているので、それに刃を当ててトントン叩く。散々「素人にはできん」とか「角度が大事じゃ」とか言ってきたくせに、なんの躊躇もなくガツンとやる徳蔵さん。リズムよく小刻みに叩いていくと、石片を散らしながら溝が少しずつ深くなっていきます。ひと筋ふた筋ごとに交代して叩いて、一丁あがり。小刻みとはいえ、重い「せっと」を間断なく振ると、体がじんと熱くなります。

Back in Oshima, I told Tokuzo san what I learned while showing him the tools and begged him to try again. “Okay, okay. I’ll try. No guarantee though.” he said, finally. He brought out a set of stone mills that had spent many winters pressing daikon pickles. The top stone still had grooves which we could follow. We set it on a counter, placed the blade on the remaining line, and clang-clang-clang. Tokuzo san started hitting with no hesitation whatsoever. Where did all the excuses like “it can only be done by a professional” or “the angle has to be right or it won’t grind” go? The ax cut the groove deeper while splattering bits of stone. We took turns every one or two lines and it wasn’t long before the top stone was finished. The hammer was heavy enough to make my body warm even though we pounded it a little at a time.

深くなった溝 Now the groove is deeper
深くなった溝
Now the groove is deeper

さて、溝もほぼ擦れきっている下の石は、線引きからしないといけません。あるかないかぐらいの溝跡に定規を当て、マーカーでラインを引いてみました。それにまたヨキの刃を当ててトントントン。徳蔵さん、これまた豪快に叩いてます。「ほんとにそこでいいと?」「よかろ」「この線、前の溝からずれてるよ」「幅は同じじゃなからんばやもん。元が悪か。こっち(自分)が正しかよ」。「元」って、素人ができない仕事をするはずの本職の線ですか?本職の聖域だったはずの仕事も、ノッてきた徳蔵さんにかかっては落書き並みみたいです。

The bottom stone was a bit more challenging since the grooves were mostly faded. We took a ruler and a marker to draw lines following the barely showing cuts. Then, more pounding. Tokuzo san swung the hammer even more vigorously. “Is that the right line?” “Yeah it’s good” “This line is off the old line” “The spaces between lines have to be the same. The old line is wrong. We are right” Wasn’t the old line cut by a professional who would do a job that non-professionals couldn’t? Tokuso san was on a roll. The work of the professional was reduced to some graffiti.

これ一本で削っていく Carving just with a hand ax
これ一本で削っていく
Carving just with a hand ax

そうやって、何とかかんとか溝を切りました。ちょっとした達成感に浸る私を尻目に、徳蔵さんは流れるように次の仕事へ。石臼として機能するには、柄と芯が必要です。柄のほうは昔のがあったので、あとは上下の石がずれないように留める芯作り。堅い木を乾燥させたのが理想的らしく、ユスノキ(イスノキ)がよく使われたそうです。石臼だけじゃなく、農具なんかの柄も自分で調達するのが当たり前、この辺の家の小屋にはイスノキとかグミとかの木がごろごろしています。その中の1本を適当な長さに切り、小さい斧一本でざくざく削っていきます。こういう人たちの手作業を見るのはとても楽しい。荒くて、危なげなくて、生み出すものを熟知した手元。手の知識は、美意識も計算もなく、暮らしを営む強さにあふれています。あっという間に芯ができました。

さあ、あとは石臼をよく洗って、溝の切れ具合を試すのみ。

芯が完成 The new shaft
芯が完成
The new shaft

After another hour, both stones had nice new grooves. I clapped at our achievement but Tokuzo san wasn’t very interested in celebrating. He nonchalantly moved onto the next task. For a millstone to be functional, it needs a handle and the shaft that keeps two stones in place. He found an old handle that could work, so just the shaft needed to be made. Like everyone else around here, Tokuzo san keeps wood sticks of various length in his shed. These are well dried hard wood like yusunoki (distylium racemosum), used to make handles for farm tools. He picked one of them, cut it in a good length, and began carving by a hand ax. I like watching the handwork of these people. Rough and confident motions know exactly what the results will be. No calculation is involved and aesthetics isn’t on top of the list, but these hands are full of knowledge that creates life. The shaft was made in no time.

Now, we just have to wash the stones clean and try them out.

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