A stone tool had been found from the loamy layer of the Kanto region, the present Midori City of Gunma, in 1949. This proved that there existed a humanity using stone tools far before from now, more than 300 million years ago.
This is how far we go back when tracking the stone culture. Stones exists in many way, small pebbles along the river and walking path, plate of stone laid down at an entrance of a house, grave stone, gardening stone, stone lantern, many more both in natural and artificial form.
What they do have in common? They are exposed to rain and winds, which gradually makes stone change its shapes. As it is sang in the Japanese anthem, 'sazare ishi no iwao to narite koke no musu made', meaning that calcium carbonate and iron hydroxide slowly forms in between small stones, connecting them together to make a bigger stone. This is an actual phenomenon that can be seen in many places.
Saida Sekizai is a stonesmith in Kameoka City with a history since 1902. Takaaki Saida, the 5th generation, explains that 'weathering is inescapable for stones, but the changes incurred by it will only start showing after a very long time. Even I am not sure if can live long enough to see those changes, but I make stone products imagining of that process.'
Some of the works placed outside their office does show some weatherings already, and they infact do look more attractive compared to those that is newly made.
'It's quite unique that the products is made with the help of nature' says Saito. It must be a fascinating co-work.
Saida emphasizes on the domestic stones. The imported stones are hard and stiff, but the domestic ones, like stone from Seto Inland Sea or Gifu Prefecture are soft and alive. 'Soft' and 'alive'! That was a particular phrase that can only come out from a stonesmith. He added that 'stones are the earth itself. They get cool or warm, changes forms, shows difference according to the age.'
Although Saida is looking at overseas market, he is also seeing 'in-door', too. Let's see what he can come up with in using stone for something to be used as part of interior.
Fifth generation TAKAAKI SAIDA
Saida Sekizai ADDRESS: 38-1 Hokiteraganawaichi, Sogabe-cho, Kameoka City