At the time when he had a log-house for his villa in a wood in Shinshu district (Nagano
prefecture), Yakusho became friends with a furniture builder living in the vicinity. To Yakusho,
his friend's workshop was a 'treasure mountain'.
窶弋he tools which he had used for years were soiled with handling, but I became fascinated with
those tools. They were treated so carefully.", Yakusho said. And in due course, Yakusho started
making something, using the pieces of wood on the floor of his friend's workshop and borrowing
his friend's tools.
"Using abandoned wood, I came to make tables or boxes , and using a carving knife, made some
ornamentation on them. Once he put his hand to making things out of wood, Yakusho tended to
forget the passing of time. "The wood changes its own 'facial expression' while I am making
something, he says, " and even after completion, I find it quite interesting that wood shows
different aspects as time passes.
In his boyhood Yakusho was not good at making plastic models. "I was not one for following
intstructions and making things, he says. Even when it comes to doing woodwork, measurements
are not exact. In the beginning Yakusho does not have in mind what to make; he starts thinking
about what to make, after seeing and touching the wood.
"It sometimes happens", he says "that the completed work turns out to be quite different from
what I originally tried to make. I have suffered a lot of failures: for instance once while I was
making a box, it became smaller and smaller." Notwithstanding the purpose of those remarks,
Yakusho smiled so happily as he spoke.
At filming studios, Yakusho usually becomes concerned about the art staff's work.
"Take floor making for a historical period drama, for instance. The art staff try to make the
wooden floor look very old by burning the floor boards, rubbing them, putting wax on them and
polishing them daily. "
"We, actors perform in a fictitious world", he says, "but when standing in the midst of a setting
which looks old, we can tell a lie quite comfortably." Smiling grimly Yakusho-san, though he is
professional as an actor, says that the woodwork he makes, struck by an idea and without taking
measuring, seems to be the type of work which professionals cannot make. "Tasteful" may be
the supreme praise that I'm happy with.
Looking for tools is one of his pastimes. "I often visit DIY shops."
The translation: "Wood shows different aspects as time passes"
Created on May 5, 2008
Revised on May 6, 08