Ezo Spruce

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
James Frieson
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by James Frieson » Mon May 14, 2018 4:13 am

The Japanese ... well , I am not here to knock them . You could say they are insular . You could say they are not conversant with history and culture of other lands , to an extent . THey have a what I call patriotic disregard for correct foreign language usage . You could say they have aggressive corporate culture .
My son is a 'half' . He has never been discriminated against . Nor have I .
Finding doors closed to me , and a complete lack of interest up here in the north , I felt discouraged . One day a prominent flamenco guitar teacher came to see me ; I had asked him to do so . He was aloof , almost overtly disdainful . He played one of my blancas for 20 minutes and did not say anything . Then he pulled out his phone and called a dealer in Tokyo , told him he met a guitar maker who makes a genuine flamenco guitar . I had a similar experience with a classical teacher whose daughter is a virtuoso . She did not even want to try my guitar , but played it at my asking . She loved the guitar and they bought it , became friends . It can be discouraging , infuriating to a degree , but the Japanese admire and insist on perfection of craft .
Comparing what can be called social polite fiction ; In America the fiction is " We are equals " , and there is the idea of the Everyman , such that the President shakes hands with Joe the Plumber in jovial equality . In Japan it is " You are my superior " , with the background of Confucian order of society . In business this is also compounded by the inheritance of samurai history , such that in the competitive world of business , the strong are respected . In the guitar world , it means that the individual crastsman maker is at the bottom of the pecking order . Just the way it is .
One of my best friends was close friend of Sabicas , Mario Escudero , Carmen Amaya . I asked him , in all the decades living in Ottawa , you must have met somebody who knew something about the history of the guitar , of Andalusia ? No , I looked , but never , not one , he told me . By contrast , there are in Japan people who develop an intense interest and knowledge of such as Baden Powell , flamenco ,Paco de Lucia who loved Japan , Atahualpa Yupanqui , Tom Jobim .
Someone I was associated with , an amateur luthier in a seacoast town , wrote to me after the great quake and tsunami . On the hillside are old stones , engraved " Below this stone do not build your house " , " If the quake comes , seize your loved ones and run up . Only life is valuable " . His house was above the stones ; of the village below not a soul survived . His house was damaged in the quake and his guitars were ruined . His last words in the letter were " I am not going to give up " . The resilience and spirit of the people is something to be admired .

Wuuthrad
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon May 14, 2018 5:03 am

That was a very interesting read, thank you so much!
I hope to revisit this topic in the near future with an interesting reply, hopefully. Much respect is due.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Mon May 14, 2018 6:19 am

What Jim says is true. I've not been discriminated against, but then I'm American, that is a special category here because of mutual history between our countries. I now know Japanese friends and residents well enough that they will say Americans are stupid in front of me, knowing that I differentiate between Americans of experience and Americans who are like many Japanese people limited by sheltered nationalist attitude.

Culture is funny- I know some travelers who told me they were turned away from an izakaya here in my small town. They thought the owner did not like non Japanese people. What they couldn't understand is that they were turned away because the hour was late and all the food had been cooked, ordered and eaten! Small establishments often but enough food for the night and that's it.

You have to know that.

The part of Japan I live in used to be called Satsuma, well still is. The history here is eclipsed by the Honshu history more commonly known in the West. The history not known much even among Japanese people, is very important to how the whole country developed. A few visionary satsuma leaders set the stage for Japan to modernize. If I write a book, which might happen, it will include the history of the area.

The area I live in was firebombed by US planes at the and of the war. Almost all the building, including the house I live in were built after the war. The area around the fishing port here was going to be used as an American base in the event of an invasion via south west Kyushu. The old people around here were ten years old during the war. I'm the only American in the whole city, the old people bear no malice. One time at a community dinner a lady in her 90s sat next to me and told me her story about being at Hiroshima a few days after the bomb attack. She had to walk for 9 hours through the town to get to a train station. After her story, she tried to feed me more. She was worrying I was not comfortable.

If I get to write it will be about the complexity of the American and Japanese mutual experience, but told by way if the folly of being a guitar maker.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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HNLim
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by HNLim » Mon May 14, 2018 6:50 am

Wuuthrad wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:45 am
Fascinating Stephen, I think you would write an interesting book if and when you decide to!

This reminds me of a good friend of mine's experience working in the "corporatocracy," to borrow your term, of an enormous global Japanese firm. I'm not going to name any names, or make any generalizations or judgements, as I probably wouldn't do that, even if I was qualified to do so. I'm only sharing an anecdote really. One that in some ways echoes your story.

My friend was moving up the corporate ladder quite successfully, and after more than a few years, he hit a ceiling which, according to him, was based entirely on his not being Japanese. It was quite a specific cultural thing, as he tells it, and not at all out of the ordinary. I recall this being his primary motivation for finding a different career path at that time.

For myself, being a fan and consumer of Japanese culture, I find these stories quite interesting. Especially, considering the history of different cultures, and how they adapt to the globalization of this modern era, with more open markets, sharing of ideas, and the growth of D.I.Y. which accompanies the advancements in technology. Yet at the same time, the 'corporatocracies' shall we say, remain strong as ever. Perhaps they're even stronger than ever before?

And to the point of how this affects luthiers? Even more interesting as a guitarist! I'd love to hear more.
Interesting but the top guy at Nissan is not Japanese.
1980 Yamaha GC30A - BRW/Spruce
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Wuuthrad
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon May 14, 2018 6:56 am

HNLim wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 6:50 am
Wuuthrad wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:45 am
Fascinating Stephen, I think you would write an interesting book if and when you decide to!

This reminds me of a good friend of mine's experience working in the "corporatocracy," to borrow your term, of an enormous global Japanese firm. I'm not going to name any names, or make any generalizations or judgements, as I probably wouldn't do that, even if I was qualified to do so. I'm only sharing an anecdote really. One that in some ways echoes your story.

My friend was moving up the corporate ladder quite successfully, and after more than a few years, he hit a ceiling which, according to him, was based entirely on his not being Japanese. It was quite a specific cultural thing, as he tells it, and not at all out of the ordinary. I recall this being his primary motivation for finding a different career path at that time.

For myself, being a fan and consumer of Japanese culture, I find these stories quite interesting. Especially, considering the history of different cultures, and how they adapt to the globalization of this modern era, with more open markets, sharing of ideas, and the growth of D.I.Y. which accompanies the advancements in technology. Yet at the same time, the 'corporatocracies' shall we say, remain strong as ever. Perhaps they're even stronger than ever before?

And to the point of how this affects luthiers? Even more interesting as a guitarist! I'd love to hear more.
Interesting but the top guy at Nissan is not Japanese.
thanks man! like i said im not going to name names but that was not the name im not mentioning....not! although im not remembering maybe youre right? maybe it was nissan :chaud: :desole:

no comment
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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Mon May 14, 2018 10:20 am

Ever see the 'flounder scene' in the movie Tampopo?
It's still a bit line that, but my slightly younger friends who are late 30's and 40's are different generation. They are sometimes called ' the lost generation' they are much more funky than the cronism world if ok'd school corporate structure. When I made the comment about the corporate guy I was aiming at an older version.

But like in American and other corporate culture in any country there's pressure on employees. Here the government is addressing unfair treatment if employees. Or beginning...
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Wuuthrad
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon May 14, 2018 11:08 am

I dont recall that scene which one was it?

Socieites gone crazy conservative I fear; I'm wondering if another roaring twenties is on the way...or maybe im just getting old? lol
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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Beowulf
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Beowulf » Mon May 14, 2018 1:48 pm

Fascinating reflections on Japanese life and culture. It may be useful when trying to understand another culture and the attitudes of its people to explore its history:

"The Japanese samurai tradition of Seppuku is one of the grisliest and most painful ways to end one's life. The practice involved a highly ritualized process of essentially disemboweling oneself with a dagger and either bleeding out or having a peer finish the job by beheading.

The centuries-old practice was once common in Japan's military and it wasn't until World War II that it seemed to finally be put to rest. Like the traditions of many Old World cultures, the dying out of Seppuku was the result of Japan being forcibly opened up to the outside world during the 19th century.

Before then, Japan had been closed off from much of the Western world with only occasional contact with the Chinese and Dutch trade ships. It wasn't until Europeans and Americans eventually forced their way into trading with Japan that its upheaval into modern society began to occur. During this time, the Japanese government began to reform and was met with resistance from the samurai class.

The killing of foreigners or those who did business with them by samurai wasn't all that uncommon. And in 1863, when Emperor Kōmei issued an order to "expel all barbarians" (Westerners), the samurai gladly did the expelling with their katanas.

This led to an incident in 1868 when samurai soldiers killed 11 unarmed French sailors who were in the coastal town of Sakai to trade. Seeking justice, Japan's French consul, Léon Roches, insisted that the samurai be executed.

Roches had assumed that the samurai would be executed by beheading or firing squad and sent one of his captains, Bergasse du Petit-Thouars, to witness the execution. What du Petit-Thouars saw instead was samurai marching out and performing seppuku one by one, followed by a particularly poor assist from their peers at beheading. The event was enough for him to stop the execution of the ordered 20 men at 11 suicides.

The incident drove the point home to Western diplomats in Japan that, for samurai, seppuku was not a deterrent against killing foreigners. An imperial decree was eventually handed down, declaring that samurai who killed foreigners would be stripped of their rank and punished accordingly. This meant that they would not be permitted the honor of ending their life with seppuku." (Joel Stice)

Note the importance placed on "honor". I suspect that to associate one's name with anyone of unknown character or skill would be socially, a risky business proposition. Times have changed, however years ago, social embarrassment was worse than death.
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Mon May 14, 2018 2:50 pm

Some of the history you recount is not chronologically correct. And the Satsuma history I mentioned figures in the picture- the south traded, but not openly. They held themselves as an exception to Edo rule. The island two miles off shore outside my house was a secret trade port for several hundred years. And the laws of extraterritoriality in late Edo and transition into Meiji restoration period were worked out by a diplomat named Tershima Munenori from a town ten minutes up the highway from my town.

The Shinazu family of kagoshima also held the Satsuma lands against the North and essentially had trade with anyone dropping by.

The the British- Satsuma war precipitated the implementation of the new laws regards extraterritoriality, not the exploits with the French.

The history people hear in the West is ridden with I'd cliches that turn history around and around on sensational things like seppuku. The reality was more plodding. Regards the advance of visionaries wishing to aqcire Western technology, there were many conflicting opinions, not one narrative. Some sought isolation, but others expected forced trade via the American entry into Tokyo bay. Just as the Meiji restoration had ' leftist' intellectual resistance to the anti enlightenment sentiment of the factions that wanted an all powerful emperor.

Japanese history like all history is nuanced and contradictory.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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Beowulf
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Beowulf » Mon May 14, 2018 3:13 pm

Stephen Faulk wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:50 pm
Some of the history you recount is not chronologically correct. And the Satsuma history I mentioned figures in the picture- the south traded, but not openly. They held themselves as an exception to Edo rule. The island two miles off shore outside my house was a secret trade port for several hundred years. And the laws of extraterritoriality in late Edo and transition into Meiji restoration period were worked out by a diplomat named Tershima Munenori from a town ten minutes up the highway from my town.

The Shinazu family of kagoshima also held the Satsuma lands against the North and essentially had trade with anyone dropping by.

The the British- Satsuma war precipitated the implementation of the new laws regards extraterritoriality, not the exploits with the French.

The history people hear in the West is ridden with I'd cliches that turn history around and around on sensational things like seppuku. The reality was more plodding. Regards the advance of visionaries wishing to aqcire Western technology, there were many conflicting opinions, not one narrative. Some sought isolation, but others expected forced trade via the American entry into Tokyo bay. Just as the Meiji restoration had ' leftist' intellectual resistance to the anti enlightenment sentiment of the factions that wanted an all powerful emperor.

Japanese history like all history is nuanced and contradictory.
Thank you for the clarifications. A question: Are you saying that there has not been a tendency to emphasize the importance of social image in Japanese cultural history? This exists in all cultures of course, however it is my impression that it might account to some degree for an individual finding it difficult to advance socially or economically. This never happens in the West... :mrgreen:
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue May 15, 2018 12:15 am

I'm writing from my phone and just lost a page long reply. Sorry. My computer is out for repair. Frustrating.

This area of late Edo history is something I researched and it's of great interest to me, but wildly off topic.

The answer to your question is- stratification according to wealth position and class is historically very real. Get your hands on Ivan Morris' book about Heian period decorum and social order. It's fun and an esoteric entry point to Japanese social history. I think the proper title is Life in the Time of the Shining Prince'. Or close.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue May 15, 2018 12:26 am

To get back to wood, there's the Hinoki I use for flamenco guitar back and sides. It also makes good tops. They are probably more like cedar and redwood. The trick is to find Hinoki that came from higher elevation and in an area with more stable year round climate. The grain in some bigger trees can be correct for a standard looking classical top. It's not well known, but a few independent makers used to use it. I know if one, but off the top of my head can't remember his name. He's dead now.

I have some that is going to be resawed into tops, so I'll show it when I get it done.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Faulk
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue May 15, 2018 12:37 am

I don't have time to unravel that passage by Joel stice. But it gets several things wrong that bother me. Ine is that samurai were not butchers, they had to be provoked.

One writer provided a better characterization of trade conditions, he said it was more like being in a very strict boarding school. Usually when people got into clashes it was because foreigners who knew better were not following the protocol and being arrogant.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

edcat7
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by edcat7 » Tue May 15, 2018 8:30 am

I wonder if anyone has read the book by Iris Chang? I'd rather not mention the title to those who've haven't read it. Just Google her name.
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chiral3
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Re: Ezo Spruce

Post by chiral3 » Tue May 15, 2018 11:22 am

edcat7 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 8:30 am
I wonder if anyone has read the book by Iris Chang? I'd rather not mention the title to those who've haven't read it. Just Google her name.
Yup. Amazing part of of largely untold history and important for everyone to be aware of. Sad end for Ms Chang. Unit 731 also occupies the same space in the awareness of what humans are capable of.
"Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect" - Margaret Mitchell

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