Mr.Masamitsu Kataoka, a Buddhist rosary artisan
As a Buddhist rosary artisan
－What do you do as a Buddhist rosary artisan?
First, I shave beads by turning a wheel with my feet in order to adjust the size. After that, I polish the beads and make a hole in each of them to pass a string through it. The size of is not always same, so we have a wide variety of tools. We use different tools for different sizes.
－After making, are these rosaries blessed at shrines and temples?
No. Most of them are made for general users. We sell these Buddhist rosaries to customers or display at department stores. Besides Buddhist rosaries, we also make bracelets. Rosaries are same as charms. Snapping the string means that the Buddhist rosary became a substitute for you and protected you. I always remember this while making rosaries.
About working as “an artisan”
－I have an image of artisans as obstinate and stubborn people.
I actually don’t like that image. But I know that many of them are. Artisans who are fully proud of their own skill could be obstinate and stubborn. It isn’t a bad thing at all, but personally, I don’t like that kind of attitude. It is too obstinate for me. If asked, I would say that I want to work openly.
I don’t like the idea that artisans are stubborn. I don’t like to be recognized I am also stubborn. I’m not saying that I work roughly. Of course I work earnestly, but at the same time I want to enjoy making Buddhist rosaries. I would feel happy if people talk to me and say, “Are you an artisan? Is this really your job? Seriously? You aren’t an artisan, are you?”
－Tell me the reason why you chose this profession.
Actually, I didn’t desire to become an artisan. But my father had long been working as a Buddhist rosary artisan, so I gradually started helping him. Ultimately, I ended up working as a Buddhist rosary artisan. My Buddhist rosaries make our customers happy, so I think it’s not a bad job. That’s why I can continue to work as an artisan. But now, I feel that what I’m doing is just carrying out tasks.
I know it’s better to love my work and find happiness in pursuing the best Buddhist rosary even if it is difficult. But I don’t think I have attained that level yet. So I can’t puffed out my chest and say, “I’m doing my best.” I am not yet at the stage of a professional.
Mr. Kataoka’s Attitude to Work
－How are young people who want to work with you?
Well, suppose there is a young man who came to our workshop to work together. He already has his own plan to make something and learn particularly skill for achieving his goal. But if I ask him to do some task before teaching that particular skill, he would instantly think that this is not the ideal workplace for him. That’s because what I asked him to do is not same as what he wants to do. In other words, he will work if he can do what he wants. But if someone asks him to do other works, he will quit.
I think the same thing can be said of other fields. These people don’t have enough patience. They can endure the task only if it is what he likes, but they can’t stand doing other works. I don’t think this kind of people can carry out what they really want neither, because they take things too easy. “I have to tolerate this task in order to do what I really want to do.” “I want to quit because this is not what I want.” For me, both ideas come from a lack of patience. In the process of learning something, it is essential to work on the minimum problem.
They should do it, otherwise they can’t move on to the next stage. I’m not saying that they have to tolerate everything. Of course, I agree that to refuse something is important. What I want to say is that we shouldn’t decide whether this task is good or bad instantly. We need to think about it carefully, before denying. Even if people ask you to do an unexpected task, please try to work on it.
－Do you have any messages for young people?
For young people, please be interested in anything. Ultimately, loving their work is important, but I think it is not bad to become greedy. For example, some people might brush up their skills in order to make money. That is not bad at all because by doing so, he could discover the worth of his work. Whatever the reason is, people will grow from the stage. So, having a desire to improve oneself is meaningful. That’s why I want young people to have interest in everything.
Kataoka Workshop of Buddhist Rosary
7, Imagumano Naginomoricho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0971, Japan
about the writer