by Yumi Ryujin
Kawagoe Goodwill Ambassador for Tourism

§ No.23

Mr. KAZUNO Tomojiro, a master carpenter who specialized in building shrines and temples

Welcome to Kawagoe! Kawagoe is an old town whose history can be traced back to the Old Stone Age. I would like to tell you a story about the Kawagoe of olden times. This story is about Mr. KAZUNO Tomojiro, a master carpenter who specialized in building shrines and temples. This is number twenty-three in the series of stories about Kawagoe.
Mr. KAZUNO and Carpenter Family "INDO"
Mr. KAZUNO was born on July 26, 1911, the second son of a family of eight brothers and sisters living in a farmhouse in Kujirai, a suburb of Kawagoe. Since his eldest brother was to succeed his father and receive the family home, Mr. KAZUNO was apprenticed to a master carpenter called Mr. INDO Junzo, who specialized in building shrines and temples. This occurred at the age of 15 after his graduation from an advanced elementary school in Kawagoe. According to Mr. KAZUNO, the Indo family came to Kawagoe from Maebashi in 1816 accompanying MATSUDAIRA Naritsune, who became the Lord of Kawagoe Castle in the same year. The name of the first master was INDO Sutegoro, the name of the second, Chugoro, the third, Kichigoro, the fourth, Tamigoro and the fifth, Junzo. So, Mr. KAZUNO was apprenticed to the fifth master carpenter. The Indo family had worked on building shrines and temples in Kawagoe and its neighboring towns and villages from generation to generation.
Mr. KAZUNO Tomojiro (1911-2009)
Mr. KAZUNO Tomojiro (1911-2009)
In the House of "Master INDO"
In the house of "Master INDO," there were always as many as six apprentices. They got up at 5:30 every morning whether summer or winter and started every day with various housekeeping jobs before breakfast: Sweeping the garden and the entrance, wiping the floors with a cloth, cleaning the bathroom, etc. The meals were prepared by two maids. The contents of the meals were the same for the master, his family members and the apprentices.
Mr. KAZUNO's Apprenticeship
Serving an apprenticeship for the first five years, he received no money during that period of time. In the beginning, he was given the job of carving hollows in pillars. His master gave his tools, whose cutting edges were worn away, to his senior apprentices and they gave their worn tools to their younger fellows. Mr. KAZUNO told me that the job of planing boards was the hardest. They planed as many as 100 boards a day, and they had to strip their clothes off even in winter because they were drenched with sweat. It took about five years to master the series of jobs required of an independent carpenter, per Mr. KAZUNO.
Construction of the Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin
Hongyoin Temple in 1927
The first job he was engaged in was the construction of the main building and the east gate of the Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin Hongyoin Temple (Map E-4) , which were completed in 1927. He carved the hollows in the pillars. As I told you in Issue No. 17, the main building of the Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin Hongyoin Temple was originally built in 1873. In the construction of 1927, the old building was destroyed and then rebuilt.
Copying Sculpture Sketches
Every night after coming back home from the workplace, Master INDO had his apprentices make copies of sculpture sketches. Carpenters do not sculpt. However, in those days it was thought necessary to make copies of the sculpture sketches in order to learn the basics of drawing plans. Master INDO told Mr. KAZUNO, "Draw this" and he did. When Mr. KAZUNO took it to the master, his master said, "I'll take it," giving him another sketch to copy. Step by step, the master gave him more difficult sketches.
Copying the Drawing of the Main Building
of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
There was a room called the "Apprentice Room" in the mater's house. One day Mr. KAZUNO found an old drawing of a magnificent shrine in the room. Though he did not know which shrine it was, he copied the drawing onto a piece of Japanese paper very meticulously using brushes and ink. He was 19 years old. He preserved his drawing with great care for a long time. He overcame the hard times during World War II. Later, the chief Shinto priest (the 21st priest) of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, the late Mr. YAMADA Katsutoshi, recognized it as a drawing of the main building of his shrine and was very pleased. This was because the original drawing of the shrine, whose construction started in 1842, had been lost. The drawing Mr. KAZUNO copied shows the details of each sculpture and I can guess how much attention the carpenters in those days paid to building shrines and temples. The reason that the original drawing was at Master INDO's would be that the first master, Sutegoro, was the chief carpenter when the shrine was built at the end of the Edo Period. Eighty-eight years after the start of construction of the shrine, the drawing was revived by Mr. KAZUNO.
Drawing of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine that was copied by Mr. Kazuno at the age of 19
Drawing of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine that was copied by Mr. Kazuno at the age of 19
Mr. KAZUNO's Various Jobs as Master Carpenter
At the age of 21, Mr. KAZUNO became an independent carpenter and worked on various constructions in Kawagoe and nearby and continued to do so until his 80'S. He received lots of "happi," a workman's livery coat, from his customers who placed construction orders. Standing in front of my camera wearing a "happi," the-92-year-old Mr. KAZUNO showed me the face of a master carpenter in active service. He passed away two years before his hundredth birthday. I pray for the repose of his soul.
Please visit Kawagoe again! We welcome you!
©Yumi Ryujin   All rights reserved.

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