Born January 19, 1979 (Capricorn)

Hobbies: Playing guitar. Actually, I'm in a hardcore band. Now that I run the shop, I'm always thinking about work, but that hardcore spirit lives on in my business. You know, I'm really quick at pressing the buttons on my calculator (laughs).
How work affects my daily life: When I'm watching TV and there's a funeral or farewell gathering for someone famous, all I'm looking at is people's hands (laughs). I'm always thinking, "Oh, they're from that sect," "This other kind of juzu would probably suit them," and things like that.

Established in 1918, Kanbe Juzu is a wholesaler of juzu, Buddhist beads mainly used for counting prayers. In addition to juzu that meet the needs of all schools of Buddhism, they also deal in rare materials used to create them. Despite their standing as a long-established shop, they continue to actively put forward bold new ideas and projects.

A set of juzu is made by linking 108 beads which represent one's earthly desires. Nowadays, however, many juzu are made with a different number of beads, as the number differs depending on the sect of the user, and informal, simplified versions also exist.

Juzu are said to have spread to Japan with Buddhism from 6th century Korea. In those days, only those of high rank possessed juzu, but it also spread to ordinary people from the end of the Heian period (794-1185) to the Bakufu period (1603-1868). In the 1200 or so years since Kyoto became Japan's capital, the juzu industry has become deeply rooted in the city, which now produces 70% of the country's juzu.

Trust Built Upon Tradition

In Kyoto, new things develop thanks to the connections between people, but at the same time, it’s also a city whose traditions have been passed down through the generations. When learning about its history and traditions, it's fascinating to go beyond written timelines and really explore the reasons and circumstances behind how certain traditions came to be.

I also think of Kyoto as a city of tourism. I hope that people will be able to enjoy it even more, and it’d be great if juzu could play a part in that. Kyoto's juzu have had a place in history ever since it became Japan’s capital city, and many Buddhist sects have Head Temples here. Also, the presence of the Nishijin-ori weaving industry means that it was easy to find thread, which is still the case nowadays. All of this contributes to Kyoto producing 70% of Japan's juzu.

At Kanbe Juzu, we want people to be able to trust in our craftsmanship and realize that our juzu feels different from others, as well as learn more about them in general.

Connecting Through Juzu

I always take care to remember these words: "wagan aigo." It's a Buddhist saying that means it's important to smile and speak with loving words. When I took over at Kanbe Juzu, I wondered, "What do I want to do with the company?" I read book after book and suddenly hit upon this thought: making juzu is a job where we give shape to people’s hopes and desires. At Kanbe Juzu, we create juzu by connecting thread, beads, tassels, and more, and take on the thoughts and feelings of many different artisans and give them a physical form. We also share our own feelings with those artisans by chatting and going out for meals together. Sometimes we even connect with people who craft things other than juzu and try something completely new. So, for both making juzu and managing a business, I think it's important to keep connecting with others by sharing your feelings.

Craftsmanship with Creativity

Our business combines manufacturing and wholesaling. People said those roles should be behind the scenes, so even putting the name of our shop on products was taboo. When it came to my generation, however, times had changed. I thought that for unique products, it was important for people to know who made them. Now, we make original products with our shop name included and advertise them on our website and social media, seeing as it's difficult to get people to use juzu for their original purpose. We also try new things like bracelets themed around anime characters.

Our juzu get a lot of attention during certain phases. Our first boom for bracelets was in the 90s, when Japan launched its professional football league and braided bracelets supporting the teams became popular. My father also made a type of juzu where you could see an idol if you looked carefully (laughs). As for our second boom, that was a little while back, when healing crystals got popular. I'd like to keep valuing the elements of juzu that allow people to easily wear them while continuing to spread the original meaning behind them.

Performing and Managing a Business are Similar

I’ve performed in bands since high school - bands that you'd call hardcore. It might strike you as being totally different from a traditional industry like juzu, but to me, there's a link. At live shows, everyone really gets into it and the musicians become excited too. The vibes get better and better, and everyone feels this sense of oneness. I believe it’s similar to managing a business. A lot of the time, we're not the only act at the show, so there are bands with members whose ages range from teens to fifties. Likewise, at work, all kinds of people get together, creating a sense of unity, and they work together to do something new. That's how our aizome (indigo dyed) juzu came about. To me, there isn't much of a difference between my work and personal life. Maybe it's because I go about my work in a hardcore state of mind that won't let anyone beat me (laughs).



What do artisans take care to do when making juzu? Do you have any particular rituals?
Back then, artisans would purify their bodies with water before starting work, but of course we don't do that much these days. However, we do think about how to make juzu so that its future owner can use it for a long time. Kyoto's juzu are crafted so that they can be fixed if the string gets loose. Some people pass down juzu in their family from generation after generation, so they're not just objects to be sold - I want to treasure the feelings behind them.
What do you think should be done so that foreigners or those who don't know much about Buddhism can learn more about juzu?
Hmm, I'd like to ask you the same thing (laughs). I saw some juzu from India and China displayed in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, but someone said they didn't know how to use them. People will buy bracelets with the Heart Sutra written on them, but it's tough to use them if you're not in the habit of putting your hands together to pray and so on. Perhaps they're using it in a different way than a Buddhist object, like how some people use Buddhist orin bells for meditating.
Out of everything you've ever made, what are you most proud of?
Hmm. I would say the aizome juzu, which used a traditional Japanese indigo dyeing technique. This project came together thanks to connections between people. The way it’s made is simple, but even people who don't usually use juzu have learned about them. Thanks to it, my wish of bringing juzu to many people has come true. There's an expression, "juzu tsunagi," which describes people or things clustered close together like a string of beads. They also say that the beads of juzu represents the idea of coming closer together and connecting with each other with a kind heart.


Price 200,000 yen
Number of participants per group 1-4 people
Available times 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cancellation policy 100% cancellation fee 7 days or more before the event date.
Payment method Credit card only
Application Requirements Participants must be at least 18 years old
(Children 12-18 years old may participate if accompanied by a parent or guardian)
Reservation deadline Until 7 days prior to the date of the dialogue
What will happen on the day 1. Pick up at hotel
2. Arrive at location of dialogue
3. Chat and explanation about dialogue
4. Dialogue with your chosen Kyotoite
5. Drop off at hotel


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