Nanbu Hakuun

  • Inami Woodcarver - 3rd Generation

  • 50+ years of Experience

gray concrete wall inside building
gray concrete wall inside building

Raw Footage, to be edited


Background and Decision Path:

[4:30] Hakuun San, born into a lineage of woodcarvers, initially dreamed of becoming a seaman but was redirected towards woodcarving due to eyesight limitations. Influenced by a teacher's advice and familial expectations, he started the woodcarving apprenticeship, marking a significant transition from his initial aspirations.

Apprenticeship Journey:

Hakuun San describes his rigorous apprenticeship under his father, starting in junior high. This 10-year period was foundational, transforming him from a family member to a dedicated apprentice. Tasks ranged from menial, like chisel sharpening and cleaning, to complex skills crucial for mastering woodcarving.

The discipline was strict; days were long (7 AM - 10 PM), with minimal holidays. Learning extended beyond woodcarving to calligraphy, significantly benefiting his artistic development.

[15:00] The living conditions were communal, fostering a competitive yet collaborative environment among apprentices. Despite initial familial surprise at his career choice, Hakuun San's dedication was unwavering, even leading to conflicts and eventual reconciliation with fellow apprentices.

Artistic Philosophy and Work Ethic:

Hakuun San's approach to woodcarving is deeply personal, emphasizing originality and customer collaboration. He highlights the evolution of ranma designs and his commitment to unique, bespoke creations.

He underscores the importance of innovation, adapting traditional techniques to modern demands while maintaining the essence of Inami woodcarving.

Cultural Insights and Reflections on Inami Woodcarving:

Discussing the future of Inami woodcarving, Hakuun San stresses the need for preserving this cultural heritage through adaptation and teaching. He is proactive in taking on new apprentices, aiming to pass down his knowledge to the next generation.

Hakuun San shares insights into the changing dynamics of Japanese lifestyles and architectural trends, affecting traditional woodcarving practices and the significance of ranma.

Personal Insights and Anecdotes:

He recalls critical moments of learning and realization throughout his apprenticeship, including the challenge of carving a lion's head and the profound impact of his mother's words on his commitment to woodcarving.

Hakuun San's narrative is filled with personal reflections on family dynamics, the apprentice system, and his aspirations to outshine his mentors, illustrating his deep connection to and respect for the craft.

Vision for the Future:

[1:37:00] Looking ahead, Hakuun San expresses concerns about the sustainability of Inami woodcarving, advocating for global engagement and innovation to keep the tradition alive. He emphasizes the importance of community support and international interest in preventing the loss of woodcarving skills.

Next Steps