« If you don’t do it now, who’s going to do it? If I don’t do it, who’s going to do it? » These words were written on the whiteboard of Mr. Takizawa’s atelier, located in Saitama.
« These words were written by my father » says a slightly embarrassed Noboru Takizawa, the second generation to look over the shop. This workshop was the playground for Takizawa, who grew up watching his father working in the bag factory. « I didn’t ever specifically want to get into the business; it just sort of happened » says Takizawa, already more than 30 years into his career.
Takizawa inspects the entire process. Although this role may sound less spectacular than the other processes, there are many things that may slip past the eye of someone who isn’t as well versed in the entire process as Takizawa.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to show some of our processes and steps today. Each workshop has their own unique techniques in order to work as cleanly and neatly s possible”
Techniques devised through many years of trial and error are kept top-secret as company assets. Even though the number of craftsmen in the shop may have decreased, they still think proudly of the work together with Yoshida Kaban. For that reason, the desired quality is high as well.
“Designers often want to design a bag exactly like the image in their head, but sometimes there are parts or aspects of that design that just don’t work out. We are the only ones able to bring solutions to those problems, thank to making bags on a daily basis.”
Sample production work involves making a design sketch three-dimensional. Upon understanding the intent of the designer and knowledge of his or her habits, work can move on to the finer details. The two parties go back and forth almost endlessly, until the new product is finally finished. This is all possible thanks to the relationship of trust between Yoshida Kaban and the craftsmen.
“I even remember some times of coming to the workshop at 9:00 at night together with a designer, with a product to finish by the morning the next day. We’re working in order to make good products. We may argue, but we never fight. We always give our honest opinions.”
Takizawa is already on his second NARROW bag, a model already out of production. He has been using the bags for a total of eight years. More than anything the well-used bag gives off a beautiful luster. “I guess the fact that I have feelings for this bag is because I made it all the way from the sample, but I still just really like it.”