Sasuke is one of Japan's most esteemed and legendary blacksmith brands from Sakai City in Osaka. Helmed by master 65-year-old Yasuhiro Hirakawa, his blacksmithing tradition can be traced back 22 generations to when his predecessors crafted guns for Shogun warlords. Today, Sasuke has been crafting bespoke knives and gardening scissors for the past 5 generations since 1867. The most expensive item can fetch up to tens of thousands of dollars. In this film, I document Sasuke as he crafts one of his finest Hanabasami scissors forged from the finest steel in Japan.
Originally wanting to become a doctor in his youth, Hirakawa unwittingly took over the family business after his father passed away and is today one of the handful of remaining master blacksmiths.
Despite Sasuke's proud tradition, no suitable successor to continue the brand has been discovered yet, and Master Hirakawa will retire in about 5 years' time. Yet, rather risk tarnishing the Sasuke brand he would rather be the last master blacksmith than to pass the mantle to a lesser-skilled generation.
Special thanks to former apprentice Eric Chevallier of japonika.fr/
'The Japanese Artisan Series' is a non-commercial project by Edwin Lee (Hong Kong) in collaboration with One Ocean Partners (Singapore). It focuses on documenting little-known but highly skilled artisans and tradespeople across Japan centering on themes of tradition and succession. With Japan's ageing population, low birth rate and reluctance of young workers to enter such niche industries, these people's traditional skills are in danger of being lost.
See more films here: Japanese Artisans Series
Music: 'Hometown Hero' by Paperchaser. Licensed from Musicbed.
Sony a6300 Slog2
Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f4 / Sony Zeiss 12mm f2.8 / Zeiss ZF 50mm f1.4 / Nikon 100mm f2.8
Beholder DS1 gimbal