A whip twitched, the little top spins leisurely, spinning out happy laughter, spinning out a fun childhood. Recently, a spinning top “spinned” into the Louvre, the top of the world’s four history museums. Why is the little spinning top among them?
It is an 88-year-old Japanese man who completes the top. This extraordinary spinning top that can spin on a samurai blade for 18 minutes is made by Masaaki Hirai, one of the few spinning top craftsmen in Japan. The spinning top culture in Japan is more than 700 years old, and the Hiroi Woodworks in Ebina City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan also has a history of more than 70 years. Masaki Hiroi was influenced by Japanese spinning top culture since he was a child and cultivated by his elders. When he was young, he became the fourth generation of spinning top manufacturing inheritor of the Hiroi family. This work that entered the Louvre and displayed to the world is just one of his countless works. One.
To create a spinning top that can only enter the Louvre is not as simple as making a spinning top when you were a child. The wood used to make the top has been left for 30 years. The 梾 wood, because of its hard texture and not easy to deform, became the best wood for Masaki Hiroi to make tops. Even though Nagaki had an inherent advantage, Masaaki Hiroi kept it still for 30 years to ensure complete drying.
As for the tools used to make tops, Masaki Hiroi is equally particular and critical. He believes that the tools in the hands of the craftsman should be polished by himself. “The best tool, no matter how you explain and instruct the person who polishes it, it may be different. Handy place, so I have to do it myself.” For example, the shaft is the most critical part of the top and needs to be made of high-strength stainless steel rods. When making, use a grinding wheel to sharpen the tip of the steel bar, then fix it on the runner, and use a small file for finer polishing. Grinding wheels, planing knives, small files…all the various tools are all carefully made by craftsmen.
Prepare your materials and sharpen your tools. In the subsequent production, each process is as delicate as carving on the hair. Even the rough top shape is a fine craftsmanship. The planer did not dare to let it go in the face of the wood that had been waiting for 30 years. First, Masaki Hiroi must carefully adjust the position and angle of the blade, as well as the force of the blade, to cut a gentle slope on the back of the top; second, the groove cut out in the middle of the wood by the gouge is used to fix it later. For the top, it must be accurate to the millimeter; finally, cut a small piece of wood into a convex shape, and the size must be tightly connected to the groove just taken out. These processes can only be accurate with decades of experience and feelings.
The key “valve” of gyro production is balance. Masaki Hiroi said: “The core of making a top is balance first, and then balance. In short, everything needs to be balanced.” With a small round chisel, a groove for inserting the rotating shaft is cut out in the center of the top, and the rotating shaft is inserted. When you go, you can’t bend or tilt, so as to ensure the balance of the top when it turns. The top spinning on the blade can not have a slight deviation of the center of gravity.
If the center of gravity is shifted, the heavier part will float up due to centrifugal force when rotating, and the lighter part will fall downward. In order to accurately judge the deviation of the center of gravity of the top, Masaaki Hiroi will mark the top near the rotating top with a pen, and then add lead to the lighter part to adjust the balance, and the position and amount of lead added depend on it. It can be determined only after years of accumulated experience and many trial and error. This process alone caused Hiroi Masaki to spend four or five days in a row, even suffering from sleepless nights.
This is not a complete success. A perfect spinning top also needs icing on the cake-coloring, which is also a necessary process to complete a work of art. Masaki Hiroi was wearing reading glasses, first painted the bottom with cashew resin paint; after a night of drying, then smoothed the surface of the top with sandpaper; finally, painted the top with bright colors.
The small top spins steadily on the blade of the katana. Eighteen minutes later, when the top was “tired” to rest, there was a warm applause in the Louvre. The applause is a commendation for the spinning top, and it is also a tribute to the hard work and wisdom of the handicraftsmen: every exquisite moment is embodied by the ups and downs of the years and life.