When we visited Ichikawa this December, the world was full of white snows. Nakashima Mika's famous song 'Yuki no Hana' (Flower of Snow) I might have been humming, yes definitely I was humming the song. It was such a winter day that suited well heavy coats, winter boots, warm hands, hot coffee and the Yuki no Hana. We drove the snowy roads for several hours and reached a small town in Fukui Prefecture. A middle aged man with mustache was waiting for us. With full of white smile on his face, he slowly walked out when he found us. Childlike smiling eyes and calm voice were impressive. It was Ichikawa Takahide.
Fukui Prefecture is the core of eyeglasses industry in Japan. The City Sabae in Fukui is known to produce 90% of Japanese domestic eyeglasses. Ichikawa introduced the City Sabae to us. We expected numerous machines, factories, workers in uniforms, however it was rather a fairy tale small town surrounded with magnificent mountains.
He offered us some teas. And we asked him some questions.
1. Why did you choose eyeglasses for your work? And he replied as below.
"Well, when someone has a conversation with you then he will glance your face... normally. Of course someone could see other parts of your body, but in many cases, people see each others face when they talk. On the other words, if you want to make yourself look better to others, then you should pay more attention to your face. Eyeglasses are the very suitable items for such purpose. They can make you look better literally and they can make you look better to the people around you at the same time. That's why I see the eyeglasses as fashion items, that why I chose the eyeglasses for my work."
2. What is the main characteristic of your eyeglasses?
"The arms of eyeglasses get older, just like people. They change their colors when they are used for a long time. Old eyeglasses might seem ugly with stains of their surfaces. However under the surfaces of TIME, beautiful colors of tanned wood are hidden. The tanning effect is not so well known to many people. Only few customers becomes to know that their Sagawafujii eyeglasses have such beautiful colors. To see the tanned eyeglasses well, you should polish them well. And to polish the arms of eyeglasses, you need some equipment. That might be the reason that only few of our customers know the true colors of their eyeglasses. We provide such polishing services for our customers."
3. Wooden Eyeglasses?
"Acetate sheets are hard to work with. Complicated building process demands skilled craftsmen's delicate handwork. So acetate eyeglasses are expensive than ordinary machine processed eyeglasses."
4. No commercials for Brand Sagawafujii?
Of course the Sagawafujii couldn't be said as a successful brand for now, it is still growing brand. But slowly it goes on it's way and proves itself to be worth of successful brand by it's goods, not by the commercials."
5. Your next items?
"Naturalism is one of our brand philosophies. Until now, we expressed it by wooden temples(arms of eyeglasses). And for coming 2015, Sagawafujii's main items would be Steel plate eyeglasses. Steel is more artificial material than wood. It represents human civilization. So we can say that by transferring from Wood to Steel, Sagwafujii come a little bit closer to the nature of Human from that of Nature.
We've been always trying to do something unique, to make something special. This one would be the very turning point of Sagawafujii and be remembered as one of the most unique items ever among all Sagawafujiis."