Shimatani Shouryu Studio is a manufacturer of Buddhist "Orin" bells since the Edo period (1603-1868) in Takaoka City, Toyama, known for for its casting industry. The technique has been handed down only to one kid of the next generation. Currently, the fourth generation, Yoshinori Shimatani, is the guardian of the long-established tradition. He adds new essences to traditional designs and is passionate about making products that respond to the times.
One of ten remaining craftsmen in Japan
In Buddhism, sound-producing Buddhist ritual utensils called Bon-ongu are used to enhance the religious atmosphere. One of the most representative examples is the "Orin", which consists of a bowl-shaped bell and a stick to strike it.
Shimatani Shouryu Studio is a workshop that has specialized in manufacturing orin for temples and was established in 1909. Currently, there are less than 10 craftsmen in Japan who can make orin by hand, and the workshop has three of them. They are extremely valuable.
With solid skills cultivated over more than 100 years, the workshop has earned the trust of users. Their orin are used at Eiheiji Temple, the head temple of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism (Fukui), Sojiji Temple (Kanagawa), Nanzenji Temple, the head temple of the Nanzenji sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism (Kyoto), and other historic temples throughout Japan.
Yoshinori was hoped to be the successor to the family business from an early age, but at first he was repulsed by the idea of taking over the family business. He felt that the work of a craftsman was "hard, dirty, dangerous" and did not appeal to him.
He left his hometown and moved to Tokyo. After graduating from college, Yoshinori spent his days searching for his future, but a chance encounter marked a turning point in his life. A volunteer cleaner told him, "It is very rare and wonderful to be born into a family that makes tools for the Buddha", and he realized anew the preciousness of craftsmanship.
He returned to his parents' home and apprenticed himself to his grandfather. Since then, he has been making orin, and at the same time, he has been eager to develop new products in new fields using traditional techniques.
The sounds reaching to the Land of Happiness
When orin is struck, a clear and beautiful sound echoes far and wide. The sound is said to reach the ears of the Buddha in the Land of Happiness, and since ancient times it has been believed to have the power to purify a place and ward off evil spirits.
Orin is made by a method called "tankin hammering". It is a traditional Japanese metalworking technique in which metal is literally beaten and forged. Since metal becomes hard when struck, the forging process is repeated with "annealing" to soften the metal by heating it and then shaping it.
The most important part of orin making is the tuning of the sound. The wavelength unique to orin is called undulation. A properly tuned orin resonates a gentle undulation and produces a harmonious sound that makes one want to pray by joining hands.
The quality of the sound cannot be measured numerically. The craftsman's ear is the only reliable measure. He taps the top of the metal fittings and listens to the sound, then taps again and listens to the sound, and then tunes the sound in three undulations called "KAN-OTSU-MON".
The art of tuning these tones is a skill that takes years to master. It is said that it takes 12 years for a craftsman to become a full-fledged one, beginning with listening to his master's tuning work and getting the rhythm of the tuning into his body.
The orin is truly the fruit of uncompromising craftsmanship. Its pleasant sound attracts many people, transcending national and religious boundaries. At an exhibition in France, an elderly woman even shed tears when she heard the sound of an orin.
Recently, they have been used as healing goods to calm the mind, in yoga and meditation. Why not try ringing an orin when you are busy or a little tired? The rich tone will penetrate deep into your mind and bring you peace and tranquility.
Bendable tinware "Suzugami" as if origami paper
With passion to create new products that fit in with modern life, the studio used its proud forging technology to create "Suzugami" tinware. The name "suzu (tin)" and "kami (paper)" means "tin as thin as paper". Although it is made of metal, this tin item can be folded and bent like origami to change its shape freely.
By repeatedly hammering the tin sheet and stretching it while applying pressure, the metal density is increased and becomes strong enough to withstand repeated bending. The three patterns, "Arare", "Kazahana", and "Samidare", are all designed to resemble Japanese weather and have a gentle and warm feeling.
Tin has antibacterial properties and can be used to place food directly on it. It is also known as a rust-resistant and stable metal, and is easy to clean. It is strong enough to be washed repeatedly and can be used in a dishwasher.
It can be used in a variety of ways, including as tableware, flower vases, coasters, and accessory trays. After use, it can be returned to its flattened shape by using the special stretching rod "Koro". Lightweight and not bulky, it is easy to carry around. It will be an excellent companion for travel and business trips.
The expressive and one-of-a-kind vessel. We hope you will enjoy using it freely and playfully.
Established in 1909. In Takaoka city, Toyama, the workshop specializes in the manufacture of orin for temples, a rarity in Japan. Under the new "shouryu" brand, it also sells "suzugami," tin containers that can be bent and stretched freely like origami, gaining new fans.See the works of "Shimatani Shouryu Kobo