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Mental sparks fly in welding workshops

Yomiuri Shimbun photos

While listening to advice from a female instructor, right, a woman participating in the workshop tries to weld a lampstand in the FeNEEDS Welders Point Nakameguro store in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, on July 13.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior PhotographerLarge sparks flying, a welder in a protective mask joins together iron parts using thousands of degrees of heat. This is a familiar scene at construction sites and factories, but it’s rare to experience welding in everyday life.

You can do just that, however, underneath the railway tracks in the Nakameguro district of Tokyo — located amid stylish shops, the Nakameguro store of FeNEEDS Welders Point hosts workshops that let people try their hand at welding.

According to the studio, the number of participants has increased year by year, with half of them women who are interested in handicrafts and other such activities.

The studio was opened in 2017 by Star Electric Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of small welding machines founded in 1960 and now located in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The company said it wanted to let people casually try welding even in central Tokyo, based on the studio’s motto “Let’s link not only iron to iron, but also people and people through welding.”

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    A participant prepares to try her hand at welding.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    A woman makes holes in a piece of iron to prepare for welding, with her husband watching.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    A participant cuts out a piece of iron to weld.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    The FeNEEDS Welders Point Nakameguro store stands underneath the elevated railway tracks of the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Traditional ironworks, far left, are also seen in this area.

The studio holds workshops every day except for Wednesdays, when it’s closed. Guided by an instructor’s directions and support, participants use cutting and welding machines to make racks, lampstands, doorplates or whatever items they like. Pots for mosquito-repelling incense are popular in summer, according to the studio.

Iron welding allows for do-it-yourself projects with a wider range of designs than woodworking alone. Fees differ depending on the item and the amount of time required, but range from about ¥3,000 to ¥10,000, including the cost of materials. The studio’s workshops are featured in “experience” gift catalogs, so some participants were given the experience as a present.

In addition to the Nakameguro store, you can try welding in FeNEEDS Welders Point facilities in Kamakura and Yokohama, both in Kanagawa Prefecture. All workshops require reservations.

Yuri Kasuga, 25, of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, attended a workshop with her husband Naoki, 38.

“We participated in the workshop because I like making things,” said Yuri, who works at a manufacturing company. “I found welding unexpectedly easy, and felt closely connected to the iron. I made a rack and a lampstand by hand with my husband, which is a good memory for us. We want to do it again.”

Human beings have had a close connection with iron and fire since ancient times, and they still appear to spark people’s minds today.

(Old & New is a series exclusive to The Japan News)


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