Handcrafted wedding bands in Kanazawa: How one craftsman creates the happiest experience

If you're looking to explore local, up-and-coming areas in Kanazawa, Tatemachi should definitely be included in your itinerary. Especially when there's a unique handmade jewelry shop like SunDance. Not only is it loved by the locals, visitors from around the world are attracted to this shop. What makes this shop so special? We got the chance to interview the master crafter, Oshimizu-san who gave us some interesting insight on the wonders of handcrafted jewelry.

Q: What kind of shop is SunDance?

A: SunDance makes handcrafted wedding bands, engagement rings as well as everyday-use accessories. From the original design to the final touch, we can make everything from scratch. It's my job to bring your imagination to life! We also have the option of a semi-handmade jewelry where the customer can pick and choose from ready-made styles and options of metals and stones. We also do jewelry maintenance in our atelier right inside our shop.

Q: What is the process of creating jewelry from scratch?

A: First things first. We listen to the customer. A lot of customers come into our shop with a vague idea of what they want, so it's very important for us to communicate with them and get a good sense of what they're looking for. Sometimes I'll draw a simple sketch during our conversation so we can transfer what's inside our minds onto paper and share our ideas. Otherwise, I'll draw the sketch after our first meeting and move on to the mock up. Once the customer is ok with the mock up, we go ahead in crafting the jewelry.


Q: How long does it take to make a ring from scratch?

A: Good question! It depends on how how complex the ring is, but the fastest ring I've made took about 2 weeks. Some may take months... there's one that even took a year to finish!

Q: What kind of customers visit SunDance?

A: Customers come from all over the world. There was one couple traveling from New Zealand a few months ago looking for their wedding bands...

Q: Really!? It's kind of surprising that people would buy their wedding rings while traveling.

A: Yeah, I was surprised too! It seems like they were traveling to Kanazawa to celebrate their engagement. They were looking for the perfect ring that would become something that would remind them of the special trip to Kanazawa. I made the ring for them and shipped it to New Zealand in time for their wedding. I'm so happy they loved the outcome so much! You can read their comments on Google Review. 

There was also a couple doing a long-distance relationship between Osaka and Yokohama. The girlfriend was originally from Kanazawa and it looks like they were searching for custom-made wedding ring shops from her hometown. What was special about this couple was that the girlfriend wanted the boyfriend to participate in the crafting!

Q: Customers can actually participate in the crafting process?

A: It's one of those things we'll have to discuss on a case by case basis. We were able to accommodate this couple so they could participate in part of the crafting process. We used to do jewelry workshops but we got really busy and stopped. If things start to settle down, we may bring it back.

Q: Please do! Do any of your customers give you direct feedback on how they like the ring?

A: Well, this long-distance couple found out about our store via Instagram. The girlfriend said that she was attracted to our photos, but after we actually made the ring, she told me "There's something really special about the ring... It's hard to describe but it's something remarkable that doesn't show on the Instagram photos."

Q: How long have you been making jewelry?

A: For a long time. Ever since I was 19. I was originally working in Tokyo with a completely different job, but I was on the lookout for something new. As I was searching, I came across our store, SunDance and it turned out to be my doorway to a long journey of jewelry crafting.  I have to admit, it was pretty tough to dive into this world without any previous experience. The Internet wasn't mainstream back then and there weren't many how-to books on jewelry making, so the only way to learn was from my master. It was a "watch and learn" kind of mentality.

Q: Seems like a pretty tough environment. Why did you decide to continue?

A: It's a labour of love. Once I found out how much fun it was to bring my designs to life, I couldn't go back. It's like I'm addicted to crafting. 

Q: What is the most important element in crafting?

A: Empathy. It's what I value the most when crafting. A couple of months ago, I went on a trip to Iseshima in Mie-prefecture, known for cultured Akoya Pearls. I think it's extremely important to understand the process of how something is made. To actually see it with your own eyes and experience it with your own hands is so important. 


Akoya pearls are well-known for their vibrant luster compared to other pearls. Do you know how this luster is made? Don't worry if you don't. I didn't know either. It's made by inserting a small shell bead inside the soft tissues of an Akoya oyster. Then, the oyster starts to coat an organic substance onto the shell bead and it repeats this process for over 2- 3 years. This coating process is what makes the beautiful luster of an Akoya Pearl. It was an exceptional experience. There are so many things you think you know, but you really don't know until you witness it. 

Q: What kind of jewelry is on trend?

A: Like fashion, the jewelry trends seem to be coming in cycles. As for bridal jewelry, a lot of people are favoring a simple and minimalistic design. I also see a comeback in gemstone jewelry. Extremely popular right now. 


Q: Tell us about Tatemachi! What are some of your favorite stores on this street?

A: I've been around here for quite some time, so I've developed a relationship with some of the older shops. I go to BEKKU HOMME a lot. They carry great Italian men's shoes. And you can't forget Okonomiyaki Sizzle. I think they've been around for 20-30 years now. It's the go-to place to eat for locals. 

Through our interview with Oshimizu-san, it became apparent that "empathy" was a recurring theme. His desire to understand was clear with the pearl farmers, but we also saw this in his relationship with his customers. Perhaps the reason why his customers seem to be happy and satisfied lies in not only his mastery in jewelry crafting, but his mastery in deploying empathy.

If you're ever in Kanazawa, check out SunDance and all the unique one-of-a-kind shops on Tatemachi street!

Address:Kato Building 2F, 95 Tatemachi, Kanazawa
Closed on:Wednesdays

Address:26 Tatemachi, Kanazawa
Closed on:Wednesdays
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bekkuhomme/

▼Okonomiyaki Sizzle
Address:1-12-24 Katamachi, Kanazawa
Hours:11:00~22:00 (L.O. 21:30)
Closed on:Mondays

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▼Tatemachi Website