Nobuo Kai  Aso, Kumamoto


Kai is a person who loves making things more than having 3 meals a day”, as described by a local article. 

For 50 years, Kai works as a Dai-ku san* and is still active as a builder.  In 2005, he started crafting small wood objects.  Every day after work, he would bury himself in his woodshop, making craft objects using leftover wood from construction, working late into the night. 


”This is as much fun as building houses”, said Kai.  He decided this would be something nice to keep doing as he ages and may not be able to continue to work on-site as often in later years.

“Daiku” in Japan refers to craftsperson specializes in construction of wood dwellings

Photo by Noriko Masuda


Photo by Noriko Masuda


As a builder, Kai are often left with abundant mill ends from construction. He started handcrafting chopsticks with these perfectly useable and high-quality wood and offering workshops.  Why chopsticks?  Kai thinks one will learn how to appreciate objects and takes better care of them when it is hand-made by one’s own effort.  It’s like building an emotional connection, especially when chopsticks is something so close to Japanese' daily life. 


A local respectable Forester, Hirofumi Yamabe, who has been thinning and up-keeping the forest in the mountains of Aso, has in possession a lot of “un-marketable" high-quality lumber.  Some are cut young, some may be arched and not suitable for construction use. He asked Kai to perhaps find ways to make use of these perfectly good wood to create new objects.  Kai has since been breathing new lives to refuse wood.    More about Aso's forestry here.