Ando Shippo

Ando Shippo (Ando Cloisonne) are still around, too, some 150 years old today, with a production facility in Nagoya and shops in both Nagoya and Tokyo.  The business is down-at-heel; to make some revenue — any revenue — they’ve gone into the sort of garbage the modern state allows the middle class to afford —  key-chains and pen holders; which is where their turn-over is made; but they still turn out nice pieces wellAnd if you ask, they will make one to order.

As you browse, asking learned questions, the Tokyo shop staff thank you repeatedly — bowing so deeply you worry about their crossbones — for coming:  “we need customers like you!”  They certainly do.  Not only has Japan, through years of deflation, grown shabby and fraying at the edges — (once glizzy Tokyo — it was never pretty —  has taken on a distinctly Dhakaesque air); but the middle class have been turned into aesthetic idiots — which is what they are everywhere — mistaking, in their clouds of unknowing, image and technology for value.  Image is of course total garbage (who cares about Bulgari’s image if what they make is utter cheap junk in machine-bent platinum, for Chrissake); and technology — well, ask yourselves:  what value will there be in today’s flat screen TVs come year… 2015?

Now, here is a page with links to Ando’s current catalogs.  There is much dross:  look at the links to the expensive items, near the bottom of the page.  Why Ando — and all of Japan, in general — with all its resources and technological prowess should be so stingy with the size of their images, I do not know.  I wonder if anyone has explained to them that this is hurting their business.  Anyway:  look at the JPEG version of the catalog, the PDF is fuzzy.

As is often the case, art objects made today represent good value compared to similar quality objects of some age, as if time itself made the least of a difference.  The matter is this: they still make them now; will they still in 2025?  Buy now if you can.  Wasting assets appreciate in value, you know.  And consider this:  at 91 cm, any modern copies of the two vases would not be cheap — I am guessing $20-30K for the pair, but they would still be 17 times cheaper than the price paid by whoever bought these at the Christie’s auction 2008.

I visited the store with a friend; her father had been lecturing her about her moral duty to her family and her country; but when I showed him my newly acquired shippo, he said “Is that Japanese, I wonder?”

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3 responses

  1. Steve F

    “Is that Japanese, I wonder?”

    I knew the younger generations in Japan had begun to lose touch with their heritage, but that astounds me. I can’t remember how I became interested in Japanese cloisonne living in Baltimore, but I always assumed there was a general knowledge of their craft heritage among the locals there in Japan.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:57

    • For some reason the Japanese do not believe in publishing large photos on their websites, so it’s hard to see how wonderful this art is

      they still make these, complain about ever shrinking market (which they do not do much to expand by raising prices), but still make them

      last time i bought some i was told how they almost ever saw customers like me (who love the art and can buy large objects) — partly it has to do with the fact that collectors prefer to buy old pieces — they supposedly have more resale value (“time value” if this makes sense to you)

      July 26, 2012 at 11:05

  2. eidos

    My impression is that the author was referring to the friend’s father (“him”), & his comment, “Is that Japanese, I wonder?” implies that either:

    1. Japanese art has changed so much that older generations find it hard recognise its Japanese qualities anymore; or
    2. The father was being ironic, suggesting that Japanese art has lost its traditional character.

    It is true that to a great extent, younger generations of Japanese seem more interested in ephemeral trends & prestigious branded goods with little true aesthetic value.

    However, it is worth remembering that Japan is a very diverse & highly populated country. While Tokyo might not have very many grand architectural monuments, it is a very large city with many fascinating little nooks & crannies. When visiting, don’t just go to those ubiquitous shopping malls & department stores; visit the small vibrant art districts, talk to dealers & collectors in the many monthly antique fairs & patronize the better antique stores. You’ll be truly amazed at what is still going on. The kitsch late-Meiji art produced for export has been replaced by very talented studio artists & many really impressive artworks have been produced especially since the latter part of the 20th Century onwards.

    May 27, 2013 at 06:23

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