Hamp Denimuya

Hand-crafted goods are common to Kyoto’s many specialty shops. Most cater not to tourists but rather to anyone who appreciates the high quality and unique character that results from something being hand-made. Some items rise to the level of art, as with calligraphy scrolls or kiln-fired vases. Others aim for functionality without sacrificing aesthetic appeal. Tanaka Akira achieves the latter with great balance, creating bags that are highly durable, stylish and imbued with artistic sensibility.

“My father launched our company, Tanaka Hokyo, fifteen years ago,” says Tanaka, “He’s a designer who creates patterns with geometric shapes and various motifs. He was working with hemp and making bags while I was making jeans up in Karuizawa. We decided to collaborate and have been making all kinds of unique bags and accessories for ten years now.”

Tanaka is usually in the company’s small antenna shop, Hanpu Denimuya, where he cuts the fabric and uses traditional sewing machines right there in the middle of the store. Many of the bags reflect the different backgrounds of father and son, using a combination of denim and hemp, patterned design and plain fabric. Watching a craftsman or craftswoman at work is usually mesmerizing, but Tanaka’s speed as he cuts and sews a simple gift bag is quite impressive. And his love for his work is evident.

“I’ve been using sewing machines for a long time. Each of them has characteristics and personalities you have to get used to. You can use one a certain way, but not another. When you’re working, it’s like they become a part of you, an extension. I’ve been using this one only about three or four years.”

Most of his premium bags average around ¥10,000, while simpler ones are as low as ¥2000. He does take custom orders, too. Maybe we’ll get one for the Koe Magazine hand deliveries we still do! website





彼が作る質の高いバッグは大体1万円前後のものが多いが、シンプルで安いものは2千円前後からある。カスタムオーダーも可能とのことなので、本誌「声」の配布用に使う特注バッグも作ってもらおうかと考えている。 website

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