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Give shape to the best work you can do [Renge Soumotomachi Koubou]

自分ができる最高の仕事を形にしていく[蓮華草元町工房]

Manufacturing
Creating things
Takumi's scenery

The site of this issue
[Occupation] Furniture craftsman
[Takumi Name] Renge Kusa Motomachi Studio Katsuhito Uchida
[Location] Yokohama/Shinyamashita

Carefully, slowly, and thoughtfully.
A corner that introduces the site of manufacturing that makes use of handwork.
This time, it is said that parents and children can continue to use it for three generations.
Yokohama furniture. More than 150 years after the opening of Yokohama Port,
We still inherit the technology and culture, and manufacture custom-made furniture.
To "Renge Kusamotomachi Workshop" which repairs furniture.

With the opening of Yokohama Port, the history of "Yokohama furniture" began with the repair of western furniture brought over the sea. Japan's woodworking techniques, which have nurtured a culture of wood since ancient times, gained a good reputation, and soon Japanese people started making full-fledged Western-style furniture. High-quality solid wood is lined up in the only workshop that inherits the history of Yokohama furniture, "Renge Kusa Motomachi Studio". Mr. Uchida explains why he is particular about the materials he uses: "Quality, not quantity. By interacting with high-grade wood, craftsmanship can be further improved, and we believe that we can provide furniture in the best possible condition." He also said, "Our craftsmen are not artists, but our job is to provide the technology to embody the customer's thoughts." Even today, in this place, the best work is produced to make someone smile.


Rengeso Motomachi Kobo is located in the warehouse district of Shinyamashita, where the Kariba Line of the Shuto Expressway runs above Yokohama Port. Founded in 2001. We visited Mr. Katsuhito Uchida, a furniture craftsman with an unusual background who was originally a fashion designer.


In the spacious workshop with high ceilings, natural solid wood is lined up. As soon as you step inside, you'll be greeted by a cool air, and at the same time, the smell of wood that overflows will tickle your nostrils.

It was 10:00 a.m., and craftsmen were already working on the wood at the Renge Kusa Motomachi Workshop.

First, let's ask Mr. Uchida about "Yokohama Furniture".

Time goes back more than 150 years to the opening of the Yokohama port. Along with many Westerners, “Western furniture” came to Yokohama across the sea. It is said that “Yokohama Furniture” began by repairing the “Western furniture” brought in for use by Westerners. Westerners are amazed that Japanese craftsmen can repair furniture better than they can imagine. It was far superior to the home country in terms of accuracy, speed, and cost. Gradually, the skill of Japanese craftsmen gained a reputation, and they began to do not only repair but also furniture making.

So, what is “Yokohama Furniture”? …“To be honest, there is not much difference between Yokohama furniture and other Western furniture. After that, furniture that was changed to Japanese specifications was made in various parts of Japan, but here in Yokohama, the way of making is changed. It wasn't necessary.It was an environment that didn't have to evolve to Japanese specifications.Because there were many foreigners living in the Yamate area.It was also the furniture that they used."

“It may sound bad to say that it has not evolved, but it means that the best style for making furniture has been firmly established. If I were to answer the question, ‘What is Yokohama furniture? Of course, while inheriting the techniques, Renge Kusa Motomachi Kobo has evolved to make furniture that fits the lifestyle of modern people (laughs).”

Mr. Uchida says so. As mentioned above, the unusual career story is also interesting. Ever since I was a child, I have been interested in things like design, architecture, and interior design, and I loved making things. Since I liked clothes, I dreamed of "I want to present at the Paris Collection!" and became a fashion designer for a major apparel manufacturer. However, after a few years, he began to question the system of division of labor unique to a major company, and retired. When I was absentmindedly watching TV at home while I was on leave, I saw a cabinet maker silently drawing a planer under a bare light bulb, and I thought, "This is it!" He decided to express himself by changing the material from cloth to wood. He immediately went to a vocational training school and learned about furniture making, and got a job at a furniture store in Motomachi, Yokohama. Surprisingly, in the furniture shop's workshop was a craftsman working under the bare light bulbs that had been seen on TV that had made Mr. Uchida decide to become a furniture craftsman. “Wow! I was so excited to see the craftsman I saw on TV in front of me. I was envious of such a good job, and as I quietly engaged in lumbering (sawing lumber of the required size and quality from logs and large timbers), I had a strong desire to become such a person someday. I remember. At that time, there was no one to teach me how to make furniture, so all I could do was learn from my seniors.”


“My teacher was a warehouse, wasn’t it? A lot of finished furniture is stored there. I once broke the finished furniture with a crowbar to see how it was made (laughs).”

After more than ten years of experience, he established “Renge Kusamotomachi Koubou”. “I didn’t want to put out the flames of Yokohama Kagu, and I decided to build this workshop as a means of nurturing young people. I want to inherit the techniques of Yokohama Kagu, which have been around for over 150 years, and revive and prosper. With that thought in mind, we chose the name of the shop after the flowers that fertilize the fields, “Rengeso.”

What is Mr. Uchida particular about when making and repairing furniture? When I asked him, he immediately replied: "The customer comes first. I always try to express my own taste within the frame decided by the customer. Craftsmen are not artists. They must accurately grasp the customer's requests and respond to them with all their might. I believe that we are here to provide the technology to make it a reality.I just want to give shape to the best work that I can do...that's all!"


This is a TV stand waiting impatiently for the day it is brought to the customer. This is a work by Mr. Uchida. While sticking to a simple design that expresses the gentle wood grain, clean lines, and beauty of solid wood, we added playful elements such as marquetry and glass work.

This is a stool in the middle of production called "Posture". A rocking chair designed for long hours of desk work. It is said that this chair was born from the voice of the staff who worked as a desk at the workshop, "I have pain in my shoulders and lower back."

This is a cushion chair with graceful lines, which is one of the characteristics of Yokohama furniture. When you put your body on the ultra-thin backrest, you will feel comfortable and it will be finely calculated to reduce the burden on your lower back.


Finally, we asked Mr. Uchida about his dreams for the future. …"I want to create furniture that knows no borders. I want to create free furniture that is not bound by categories such as Western furniture or Japanese furniture. I only think about making my customers happy. From the port of Yokohama to overseas. More than 150 years ago. ``Yokohama furniture'', which has its roots in furniture that crossed the sea in Japan, will now cross the sea and become furniture that gently blends into the life of a foreign land...It would be wonderful if it became such a thing."

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