In a workshop in Minamo Machi, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, Masashi Uda designs and handcrafts a wonderful range of wooden spoons. With a beautiful, ready smile, Uda feels happiest when working in his workshop with the south facing doors pulled back and with the sunlight streaming in; it is almost as if the workshop is at one with nature, as it nestles on the hillside among the trees.
Masashi Uda carves his spoons out of Japanese Cherry, with its beautiful deep red-brown colour. Each year, the Japanese cherry produces cherry blossom, a flower in Japan, symbolic of spring, renewal and an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhist influence. The Japanese celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom during the Hanami Festival, a centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming cherry or sakura tree.
To a make a single spoon is a labour intensive, involved and multi-step process. Uda must first select the wood, machine cut the rough shape of the spoon from a template, shape the form of the spoon with various chisels, plane and finally oil the spoon. The finished products are highly aesthetic, unusually shaped and perfectly functional wooden spoons – to be enjoyed and used as serving spoons, soup spoons, coffee spoons or tea spoons.