Sunday, February 1, 2009


I worked the Business Research at Kodak Japan. Yes, I used to wear a suit and tie. Kodak just announced another layoff, 1300 people locally, in Rochester, NY. Twenty two years ago, when I first came to Rochester, people told me that if you throw a stone, you hit a person related to Kodak. Employed about 50 thousand people in Rochester. Now it is down to 8 thousand people. You could blame on the digital conversion from the film as one reason. Probably true. When the old-school type business ; loyal to employees (no worker's union), honest business, academically-technology driven rather than market driven (if you have a real good product, people will buy them.) since the establishment of company by George Eastman, faced the world competition, it was too slow to react to the increasing changing market. Fuji Film had always been afraid of waking up the sleeping giant. That giant never waked up. Last several years of Kodak has been painful, the corporate outsiders selling the assets just to look good on the paper (survive) . It is sad to see the company who brought me to Rochester, vanishing.

Have you heard or seen the book, “500 BOWLS” by the Lark books? I was fortunate enough that my bowl is in this book. This books features many great bowls. This bowl has a connection to Kodak. I use the Kodak film container for my circle decoration. If I remember correctly, I first saw this technique from the book, Warren MacKenzie: American Potter, that influenced my pottery greatly, that another story, and thought to use the Kodak film container as a sign of ex-Kodak potter. Kodak's container is black, not the semi-transparent film container.

After throwing the pottery, you hold the film container outside the bowl, and push the clay toward outside in circular motion from inside with a finger. If you thrown the shape of bowl right, this makes very nice complement to the bowl. After making these circles, I turn the wheel and reshape the edge of bowl with a chamois to reshape to be round.


Lee Love said...

My mother's family lived behind their coffee shop in Sakai, Japan. My father bought the property for them as a sort of dowry gift when he married my mother. For years, they ran a coffee shop and supported themselves. Most of their customers were from the Fujifilm housing and recreation center across the street from them. When the Fuji film plant closed in the '70s, their business went downhill. They eventually turned the coffee shop into a karaoke bar, which never made much money. My uncle retired and closed the family business and passed away within a year of retirement.
We have always had an incorrect idea about "life long employment" in Japan. In addition to regular employees, they hire "part time" employees. Most foreign workers fall into this category. The part time workers are being laid off in droves and company housing pulled from under them. Things are tough everywhere.

hodaka pottery said...

Hi, Lee I have grown up in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Back in primary school days, we sneaked into and played the baseball in Fujifilm's ballpark for their housing.
It seems "life long employment" was the way of the past in Japan. Hope the economy turns around quickly.