Discover Nikkei

Heroes: dream, work and transformation

Oh! Dreams! Dreams! Dreams! Nothing is finalized by human hands, especially when they are on the other side of the world. It is with these hands calloused by time, by history, that the weight of culture transforms the land into art, molding the clay, reconnecting each element until reaching the final product. Everything seems ready and finished. No, none of this is finished because each piece will be unique and nature will make its final touches.

The marks between the lived, the present and the future are increasingly stronger, they come together like Sisyphus to his rock. But these heroes are not condemned by the gods, but are on Olympus. It is an Olympus built in reality, without the symbiosis of the rock, even though the hardness of the ceramic pieces, coming out of the noborigama kiln, is compared to a rock, but they do not impose on the men and women who build in Cunha a lack of freedom or punishment. Each piece expresses a cosmic uniqueness that is imposed through the human freedom to create and recreate a true, simple and imposing art in its true designer, which enchants the world.

It is this art that Cunha lives with. It is with this art that she has remade her story since 1975, when a small group settled in the slaughterhouse. This place made room for a team of heroes who broke through the clay, mastered fire and water in each batch, and brought jobs and hope. They woke up a forgotten place in time and rewrote its history, through each piece that continues around the world with the handprints of these heroes.

So now, I offer them the medal of recognition within our history between yesterday, today and tomorrow. Congratulations, Mieko Ukseki, Mário konish, Toshiyuki Ukeseki, Suenaga and Jardineiro, Marcelo Tokai and everyone who learned to drink water from this clean and pure source, in the middle of this long and pleasant crossing. This fight is a shift in time that comes and goes, measuring its spaces in the smallest details. We are all grateful for making it known ahead of time, with such skillful hands.

Cunha, formed by an immense sea of ​​hills, offers the new residents of the place a very healthy product, clay, with the quality necessary for the production of the pieces that go to the oven, after a lot of care. Each ceramist will impose his or her style, which, like true poetry, will gradually come into its own. These pieces are not ready just by the will of the artisans, but they combine with the arrangement of the air, the chosen material, the wood, which is gradually placed in the oven during the first firing and then the second enameled firing that reaches a temperature between 1,300 and 1,400 degrees. One, two, three days and the smoke gives way to a blue sky that makes us mad, but every now and then clouds appear on the horizon, further south, that look more like wads of cotton, announcing rain, or on the other side where the wind seems to bend, a mountain range appears accompanied by a cold wind that touches an intense and freezing drizzle. Everything I live seems to want to hide. Meanwhile, the pieces rest in the heat of the oven waiting for opening day.

Everything ready for the big surprise. Each gesture of the artisans reflects a deep respect for mother nature, the oriental way of doing, being and transforming is present in every moment. The adjustment is perfect, the rhythm of the hour is satisfactory, overcoming anxiety and opening space for an event that brings with it a uniqueness that surpasses the most curious glances. Then, the oven is opened and each piece that appears before the public is a surprise. A surprise that affects the creator himself who, when molding the pieces and preparing them in their stages until the final moment, is enchanted by such rare beauty. And everything is arranged in time, space, time and, better, it stands before itself, opening the doors of transformation that from the immanent almost reaches the transcendent, valuing in detail the effort between being, doing and the search for the new, unexpected or unexpected. This all comes down to living and being fully, in the confidence of a new place with the same dictates of yesteryear based on the history of yesterday, today and tomorrow, giving new air to the future that holds everything and has nothing to fear except, be greater than the gift that has been generous to everyone.

© 2019 Oswaldo de Campos Macedo

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About this series

The word “hero” can mean different things to different people. For this series, we have explored the idea of a Nikkei hero and what it means to a variety of people. Who is your hero? What is their story? How have they influenced your Nikkei identity or your connection to your Nikkei heritage?

We solicited stories from May to September of 2019, and voting closed on November 15, 2019. We received 32 stories (16 English; 2 Japanese; 11 Spanish; and 3 Portuguese) from individuals in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.

Here are the selected favorite stories by our Editorial Committee and the Nima-kai. 

Editorial Committee’s Favorites

Nima-kai selection:

To learn more about this writing project >>

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About the Author

Natural de Cunha, SP, 55 anos (14/06/1964), é professor de História e repórter fotográfico desde 1989.

Atualizado em setembro de 2019

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