It has been a really interesting roller coaster experience to bring an idea to actual products in a place/culture that is outside of our comfort zone. We got our first prototype made by Komura-san, a very talented wood artisan nearby our house... Yesterday we picked it up and it came out absolutely gorgeous and we got super excited to see something that was just an "idea"... made right in front of us.
Then we got stuck. Komura-san told us that he would be too busy with his everyday project so he couldn't really take our special order... so we talked to several wood shops on the island who have slightly different expertise from each other. The hardest part for me... has been to re-educate myself about the relationship building process that is truly unique to a Japanese culture. There are so many shades of gray when people communicate... It's complicated, intricate and interactive. There is many awkward silence then going back and fourth changing words slightly to make sure that we are understanding what has been said, and finally a very undefined decision making process. Sometimes it feels like I am untangling a secret code and I have to know "the art" to be a part of it.
To be honest, I have spent my entire adulthood in Los Angeles... and have been trained to be individual, vocal and straight forward to survive in the U.S. design / business world. So I have very little practice (and sometimes knowledge) in what is proper versus what is too invasive... Maybe it is little different in a place like Tokyo where everyone is hassling but here on the island... everything moves at a very different pace - and that's the beauty of being here.
At the end, I know I have to stay true to myself and speak with dignity and sincerity... and hope for the best.
As far as the baum-kuchen special toy..., we DID get through to one of the craftsman who came with great recommendations after visiting more than handful wood shop. (yey us:) I am crossing all fingers (an toes) that the conversation will move forward.
photos of Sutra written on pebbles taken at Hitomekuri, a restaurant in Miyano-ura. They so reminded me of the project I worked on... when I was still in school.