Skilled craftspeople emit great sound when they work. When Toshikazu Himeno of “Himenosaku.” in Yao-shi, Osaka creates a pot, the sound resonates like music to your ears.
“When I was a child, I used to hate the clanging sound of pots being pounded. Even after I took over the business, the sound is loud, it’s a lot of work, and on top of that, my pots don’t always sell (laugh). I found myself pursuing the art of pot making, trying to figure out why I can’t make the perfect pot, why it won’t sell. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to pound it evenly, the tools I use, my posture when I sit, how much force I use.”
Himeno was 30 years old when he took over the business which his grandfather started in 1924, almost 100 years ago. The “yukihira nabe (pot)” Himeno makes are loved by leading professional chefs. They are known for their efficient heat induction. They heat up evenly, so that the ingredients are cooked evenly, reducing the potential for burning.
“Pounding aluminum which has high chemical purity and adding pounding marks causes the aluminum to tighten, giving it additional strength. When the surface of the pot expands, heat conduction becomes even more efficient, allowing you to cook ingredients evenly. Most “yukihira” pots are 2 mm thick, but ours are 3 mm. That makes them sturdier, provides added insulation, and stability.”
The pounding marks unique to “yukihira” pots are made by the hammer which is used to pound at the metal to give it additional strength. A pattern is etched each time the metal is pounded, which means that no mistakes can be made, requiring skill and intuition. The patterns Himeno makes with his rhythmic pounding are quite beautiful.
Aluminum is said to conduct three times more heat than steel, and is also a third of the weight, making it easier for women to use for cooking. A film of oxide forms on the surface of the pot when exposed to air, protecting the inside of the pot from rust and decay, thus enhancing the pot’s longevity. The smooth surface also makes the pot easier to clean, keeping it sanitary. There is a selection of pots to choose from according to your needs, including the “yukihira”, “oyako”, “dantsuki”, “hakkaku” and others.
Currently, there are less than 10 handmade pot makers, and about half the pots are made to order. The size, material and handle are all customized for each order.
“I was asked to submit a quote for a gold pot, but it didn’t come to fruition because it came to 10 million yen (laugh). I’ve had a lot of interesting orders, but the most unique was the huge rugby ball that’s in front of the Higashi Hanazono station on the Kintetsu Line. That one was really tough because it’s so big.”
Himeno has a passion that hasn’t changed since he began creating Himenosaku. His desire is to “create a product that can be used for a lifetime”. This might be outdated in the present world of mass production and single use products, but Himeno wants to stay true to his passion as he creates “Himenosaku.” engraved products.
Pounding daily in full concentration. He is said to the be most skilled pot craftsperson in the nation, and his pots are known to last 50 years. But there is no finish line for a craftsperson.
- Himeno Kosakujo
- 1-11 Ota, Yao-shi, Osaka, 581-0037
- TEL 072-949-5174
- URL https://shop.nihonmono.jp/collections/producer-14