NOUSAKU is a producer of Takaoka Casting. The region of Takaoka has been famous for casting mainly Buddhist alter fittings made of tin and brass since 400 years. NOUSAKU was established in 1916 and is managed by the fourth generation of the Nousaku family. The family and company by itself are already a subject by itself. 能 (NOU) 作(SAKU) mean intelligent creation. There is no better to describe the products made by NOUSAKU.
The production of NOUSAKU products requires four basic steps: forming, casting, finishing and coating.
Independent craftsmen who work for multiple clients make the wooden forms. These wooden forms are stored for years. The warehouse is full of hundreds of forms that sometimes are used once every few years to renew certain parts of a temple.
During the casting process these forms are used to press the shape into a special sand in a box. Once the box full of sand with a specific pattern is closed these only is a small whole left, which is used to fill in the molten metal. On one day the workers in the casting area will prepare hundreds of forms, the next day they will all be filled with metal and after cooling the newly created objects will be removed from the forms and the sand recycled. Work in the physically demanding casting area requires a lot of teamwork, whereas the next production step is performed by highly specialized craftsmen who work alone at their workstations.
Each workstation in the finishing area stands for a specific task to be performed on each object. Craftsmen that are with NOUSAKU for many years master multiple workstations, whereas young craftsmen first struggle to reach perfection on very few tasks. The work in the finishing area ranges from simple polishing to the engraving of complex patterns into the objects.
The last step of the production is the coating, which is performed by specialized companies. Different companies are used for different kind of coatings. By working together with multiple companies for creating forms and coating NOUSAKU also contributes at keeping the eco-system for the traditional craft of Takaoka Casting alive.
Other than brass, which is used for making many products such as wind chimes, NOUSAKU developed new range of products made of pure tin. Known as the most expensive metal after gold and silver, tin is very malleable and flexible. Though having nearly the whiteness of silver, it does not rust easily nor will air tarnish it readily. It is significantly antibacterial, and also known as a material with low allergic reactivity and high heat conductivity.
Its history dates back to around 1500 B.C. when the ancient Egyptian pharaohs were believed to have used tin tools. The Shoso-inTemple in Japan also contains treasures made of tin. It has been believed that water in a tin container does not spoil, and tin removes excessive bitterness from sake and produces better taste. Because it is known to absorb impurities and purify water, tin wares allow you to enjoy liquor, meals, sweets, or flowers. Tin plate cooled in a refrigerator for 2-3 minutes will keep the plate fresh and cold.
NOUSAKU uses pure tin. It is common to add other metallic materials to provide durability and facilitate cutting work, but NOUSAKU uses tin without such additives. Accumulated experience of skilled craftsmen enables us to produce these unique items. Though it depends on the shape and thickness, pure tin is soft and flexible which can be bent by hand (crackling sound called “Tin Cry” will be heard when bending). The Flexible Ware creations of NOUSAKU allow people use use the product in many creative ways.
The story about NOUSAKU is not only about an interesting craft but also about the transformation of a business. Most of its history NOUSAKU was a casting company working for other companies who would make finished products. NOUSAKU therefore almost never knew the end-customer. It is when the 4th generation of the NOUSAKU family took over leadership that an interest into the consumer grew. The company started working with designers to create new and interesting interior products, which received high recognition around the world. 10 years since the beginning of this transformation NOUSAKU is on its way of becoming an interior decoration and tableware luxury brand well known around the world.
NOUSAKU has been hiring many people over the last years to cope with their increasing success. The average age in the company is around 30 and we felt a very inspiring and dynamic atmosphere throughout the whole company. This culture of growth and creativity made us very confident about the future of NOUSAKU and we are looking forward to see many more fantastic new products.