History & Culture

Supporting cast of pruning scissors for Tsugaru’s apple industry

津軽のリンゴ産業を支える剪定鋏

弘前市にある三國打刃物店は、今や市内で2店だけとなったりんごの剪定鋏の製作工房です。130年ほど前から続く店は、農機具全般を手掛けてきました。三國打刃物店の五代目三國 徹(みくに とおる)さん57歳。剪定鋏を作って37年。

Sangoku Uchimono Store in Hirosaki City is now one of 2 shops remaining that produce specialize apple pruning scissors. The store has been around for 130 years mainly by producing farm used equipment.
Mr. Toro Mikuni, 57 is the 5th generation of Sangoku Uchimono Store.
Spent 37 years of making pruning scissors.

剪定鋏の製作は、朝の早い時間に鋼の火入れをし、午後から整形作業に移り、3日ほどで2丁の鋏を仕上げるといいます。ただ、リンゴの作業が終わった11月後半からは、新品を作るより、農家から持ち込まれる剪定鋏の修理で忙しくなります。12月から3月までに200丁の鋏を修理するといいます。持ち込まれた鋏は、持ち主の手のサイズや形、握り癖に合わせて、曲線を調整し、農家の手へと戻っていきます。
The production of pruning scissors starts early in the morning by burning steel and perfecting the shape in the afternoon. It is said that 2 pair of pruning scissors can be completed in about 3 days. At the second half of November marks the end of apple operation. But rather than producing new pruning scissors, they will be busy repairing pruning scissors received from the farmers. 200 pairs of pruning scissors will be repair from December until March. Scissors they are brought in by the farmers are fix and adjust to the fitting of the farmer’s grip according to their hand size. Adjusting the curve and return it to the farmers respectively.

青森のりんご農家は、これから冬の選定作業が始まります。

収穫の終わり、1月~4月頃まで雪の降り積もったリンゴ園でリンゴの枝の剪定作業に入ります。剪定は、樹の樹勢を保ち、日光の当たり具合を考え、次の収穫を左右する大切な作業です。

リンゴの枝は、硬く選定には力が要り、剪定しているうちに、手だけでなく、腕も痛くなると農家は言います。剪定作業は、剪定鋏の良し悪しにかかっていると言っても過言ではありません。(剪定が上手くいくかどうかは、鋏の出来によるという意味です)剪定鋏には、それぞれの工房に伝えられてきた独自の技術があり、農家は、自分に合った工房を選びます。

Aomori’s apple farmers will start the pruning labour in winter.

After the harvesting labour ends, apple trees branch pruning work will start from January until April where snow piled up in the apple farms. Pruning is an important operation as it will affect the quality of the next harvest. Hence it is carefully carried out by preserving the vigoro of the tree and also the angle of sunlight reaches it.
Hard and firm branches are the one needed for the apple trees. In the process, fatigue does not only occur on the hand but also the entire arm was said by the farmers. This pruning process rely heavily on the quality of the pruning scissors used. Each pair of pruning scissors are specifically made to suite the farmers needs and personal skills. Farmers rely on craftsmen’s workshops to make a kite that fits their hands.
持ち主の手のサイズや形、握り癖に合わせて、曲線を調整する。
The curve is adjusted to the particular farmer’s hand size and personal skill.

三國さんの片刃式と言われる剪定鋏の様式は、片方の刃は鋭利に仕上げ、もう片方の刃は枝を支える“受け”にすることによって硬くて太い枝も安定して切ることができる方法です。この片刃式は、日本の剪定鋏の基本となりました。

三國さんの鋏は、大量の枝を切っても咬み合わせが変わらないよう、緩みやすい一般的な右ねじではなく、一つずつ手で成形した左ねじを使っています。
Mr. Mikuni’s pruning scissors producing technique is known as the single-edged style. This is where only one side of the blade is sharpened and the other side act as and support for cutting of thicker branches. This technique is known as one of the basic when it comes to pruning scissors.

Mr. Mikuni’s scissors are made to cut through a lot of branches without the shape being alter by doing a left-hand screw that are handmade instead of right-hand screw that will loosen easily.

剪定鋏には、古い歴史があります。剪定鋏を作ってきた鍛冶職人は、その昔、弘前藩主お抱えで刀剣を作ってきました。時代の流れとともに、彼らが手掛けるものも刀から包丁や農機具へと広がり、その技術は、剪定鋏へと受け継がれました。三国打ち刃物店の歴史でもあります。
There had been a long history on pruning scissors. Long time ago, blacksmiths who made pruning scissors were also actually making swords. Passing of each era had changed them into producing kitchen knife and farm equipment instead of swords. But the sword making technique is pass down as pruning scissors until now. There is also a historical background at Sangoku Uchimono Store

今から20年ほど前、剪定鋏を取り巻く状況が一変し、海外製の安価な剪定鋏が一気に普及。りんご農家にも手入れが必要な鋼鉄の鋏ではなく、安くて手軽で使い捨ての出来るステンレス製の鋏を選ぶ人が増え、古くからの刃物店は、経営が難しくなりました。しかしながら、100年以上も続けられてきた技術の伝承も、今、危機に瀕しています。

三國打ち刃物店にも、もう一軒の刃物店にも後継者はいません。1人前になるには10年と言われるこの世界に、飛び込んでくる人はいないと言います。
However, this technique had been passed down for more than a hundred years and is now facing a danger of being write off.

20 years ago, situation of the pruning scissors had changed drastically as there is an increase number of overseas brands with a much lower price to pay for one. Apple farmers nowadays rather use the stainless steel, easy to operate and disposable pruning scissors instead of steel that require a lot of care and maintenance. Old shops that are producing steel made scissors are having a hard time now with their business going down.

There is no successor in Sangoku Uchimono Store or even the other one. It is said that it takes 10 years for one to become a successor and no one is coming into this industry.

丁寧に使えば30年以上持つという剪定鋏。津軽の匠の鍛冶屋の鋏は、農家の手に馴染み、こだわりの使い捨てではない本物の道具なのです。
Pruning scissors can be use up to 30 years if its is care and maintain properly.

Tsugaru’s craftsman blacksmith is familiar with the hands and personal details of the farmers and is a genuine, non-disposable tool.

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