Making a difference with jewelry: Muramatsu Makoto


This week’s topic is dear to my heart, because I truly admire unique jewelry. So far I had looked at jewelry from a foreign perspective, but this time I am very happy to get a better understanding of the actual historical background of jewelry in Japan by interviewing a local jewelry designer Muramatsu Makoto. He has his own jewelry brand:
m2Design (www.mur-c.com). Muramatsu san was born in Tokyo, graduated from Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art gem fine art technical school, worked as chief designer for 10 years and founded in 2004 M2Design. Muramatsu san takes part in exhibitions and since 2008 has set up his own gallery with breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji and Kofu city.
1974年、東京都生まれ。山梨県立宝石美術専門学校を卒業後、某ジュエリーメーカーでチーフデザイナーとして10年間勤めた後独立。2004年に株式会社エムツーデザインを設立する。全国各地でジュエリーのイベントや個展などで活躍。また、より多くの人にジュエリーに触れて欲しいという考えから、2008年に富士山と甲府市の街並みが一望できるギャラリーを設立。個性的な発想と、宝石の美しさを最大限に引き出すクールなデザインは、多くのマスメディアに取り上げられ、全国に熱狂的なファンを持っている。
For the first time the interview was conducted in Japanese and then translated into English from my side (my apology in advance in case of any mistakes).

Sibylle Ito: So far in Japan I saw most foreign brand jewelry. How come that foreign brands have become so popular?
私日本で今までよく見たの宝石が外国のブランドばっかりです。何で外国の宝石がそんなに人気ですか?


Muramatsu Makoto: For a long time a large number of Japanese liked foreign brands. I believe, this is most likely based on the difference of the history and culture of Japan compared to the West. You know, unlike the West, Japan has become much later a developed nation. Looking at the history of European fashion, Japan at the same time did not have a similar advanced level. Most likely still many Japanese yearn for European fashion. The same thoughts can be applied then for jewelry.
I think European design is surpassing the Japanese, but recently in various fields Japanese design got global recognition and approval. Furthermore Japanese people have become interested in local brands and the number followers has started to increase.
日本人はもともと外国のブランドが好きな人が多いです。それは日本と西洋との、文化や歴史の違いが関係しているように思います。日本はすでに先進国として知られてはいますが、ヨーロッパのファッションにおける歴史を見れば、日本はまだまだ浅い部分があります。日本人の中にはヨーロッパのファッションに対する憧れを持つ人が多いのでしょう。そういう人はジュエリーに関しても同じです。
もちろんヨーロッパのデザインは大変優れたものが多いと私も思いますが、最近はさまざまな分野で日本のデザインも世界的に認められてきて、日本人の中にもブランドの国籍は気にしないという人が増えつつあります。

SI: Abroad personalized, one of a kind jewelry has a marvelous image. So far in Japan I did not hear about a desire of having very unique jewelry. Why is it different?
外国でよく自分しか持ってない宝石が素晴らしいイメージです。日本で今までその事あんまり聞いた事がないんです。何ででしょうか?


MM: I have the same image. For foreigners instead of putting importance on a brand, it becomes more important to have the feeling of “only I have this” or then “because it is me, it suits to me..”. Based on higher self-confidence it seems that many foreigners have this different approach. Contrary then looking at the historical background of Japan, Japanese tend to follow fashion fads more easily, or if people in their surrounding posses something, especially then the feeling that they need the same too is quite common.
In my opinion Japanese women don’t like to have any conflicts with their acquaintances, based on a strong desire for having a peaceful environment. Therefore having similar products as everyone else, probably gives Japanese women a piece of mind. However recently independent women are on the rise, consequently the joy of possessing something that “only they have” becomes more common.
私も同じイメージを持っています。外国の方はブランドというよりも「自分しか持ってない」とか「私だから似合う」という、自分に自信を持った着けこなしができる人が多い気がします。逆に日本人は歴史的に見ても、流行が大きな流れになりやすく、「周りの人が持っているから私も欲しい」という人が多いです。
私の考えですが、日本人女性は周りの人と争いたくないとか、平和でいたいという気持ちが強く、皆と同じものを持つことが安心として感じているのかもしれません。ただし、これも最近では自立した女性が増えてきたということもあり、自分だけが持つということに喜びを感じる日本人も増えてきています。

SI: Is there a history of unique jewelry in Japan?
ユーニックな宝石が日本の中で歴史がありますか


MM: In Japan traditional jewelry was made of crystals, agate, pearls, lapis lazuli. In the Meiji period (1868-1912) in Yamanashi prefecture a lot of crystals had been mined, but the available natural resources were limited and only few other gems could be found. Furthermore, because Japan is an island country distribution and access to gems was limited. Only in recent few decades truly unusual gems became available.
日本で歴史が古い宝石は水晶、メノウ、真珠、ラピスラズリなどです。明治時代には山梨県で水晶が多く採れましたが、日本は島国であり、もともと宝石があまり産出しないので、ユニークな宝石が流通しだしたのはここ数十年、本当に珍しい宝石の流通は数年です。

SI: In my opinion until marriage Japanese men are under much pressure from women to buy jewelry. Is this really true?
私のイメージで日本人の男性が結婚するまで女からの宝石買うのプレッシャがとても高い。それが本当ですか?


MM: The Japanese history of fashion, especially in the case of jewelry, its historical origin is recent. Consequently numerous people have no idea about jewelry. In the case if a woman desires to receive jewelry, quite often for the man he simply perceives the wish for jewelry as a highly priced luxury. Therefore Japanese men feel a lot of pressure if a woman desires jewelry.
To present to a woman an engagement ring the typical rule known is that it should be the worth of three monthly salaries…but this was based on a public marketing strategy of the diamond industry. In the past many Japanese men had obediently followed this rule.
日本はファッションの歴史、特にジュエリーの歴史が浅いことも原因なのか、日本人の男性は宝石について何も分からない人が多いです。女性が欲しいと思っても、男性にとっては価値が分からず、ただ「高い買い物」と感じる人が多い気がします。そういう意味では日本人男性は、女性からジュエリーを買って欲しいと言われることがプレッシャーに感じているかもしれません。
女性に贈る婚約指輪の予算は「給料の3か月分」といわれたこともありましたが、これはダイヤモンド業界の宣伝効果で、日本人男性は昔それを素直に守っていた時代もありました。今では人それぞれとなったようです。

SI: In Japan my image is that only a few unusual products exist. How come that you wanted to create something like jewelry?
日本の中のイメージで珍しい物作るの方が少ない。何でMuramastsuどうしても宝石作りたかったんですか?


MM: Since I was I child I always was interested in work that included creating something. At 17 I was aiming at becoming an interior designer, but then I encountered the “jewelry street” in Koufu (Yamanashi prefecture). I realized that a gem is something that was created in the ground for thousands or ten thousand years to become a beautiful crystal. It seemed to me that a gem is similar to a flower that can provide beauty, while at the same time ease our pain. I have chosen this job, because it gives me an opportunity to transform this slowly created gem – received as present from the earth – into jewelry. That is why I had to choose this profession. I have started with my own business 6 years ago, because I wanted to make sure that I can create my own design allowing a new sparkling life to a gem.
It is my dream to provide jewelry for people that can allow them to sense “dream”, “energy” and “tranquility”, first mainly of course in Japan, but hopefully sooner or later worldwide.
子供の頃より何かを作り出す仕事に興味があり、インテリアデザイナーを目指していた17歳の時に、「宝石の街」といわれる山梨県甲府市で宝石と出会いました。
宝石は地球が何千年、何万年もかけて作り上げた美の結晶です。また、宝石はキレイな花といっしょで、何の見返りも求めず私達を癒してくれます。その地球からの贈り物にデザインをして、ジュエリーとして完成させる仕事に大きなロマンを感じ、この道に進みました。どうせするなら人がしていないデザイン、そして宝石に生命を感じるジュエリーを作りたいと思い、6年前に独立をして今の会社を立ち上げました。
日本ではもちろん、いずれは世界の人にもこのジュエリー達を伝えたいと思っています。私が生み出すジュエリーによって、一人でも多くの方に「夢」や「元気」や「安らぎ」を感じてもらいたいです。

Muramatsu san, thank you so much for taking time to explain more about gems and its unique Japanese history. For sure you have changed my few on gems as I see them now as well slowly grown flowers from the deep ground.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s