Oh no. It’s not just the winter chill that brings a dusting of desolation to the scene you find here, on your way for coffee this morning, of this home and workshop where only four months ago you made snapshots like the one above, of this industrious couple in active times.
Your sense of loss comes from how the Kondos appear to have packed up and moved out.
That day you are walking past and say hello and she said, to her husband, Invite that fellow in and chat to him. So Mr Kondo sits you down with a neighbour who has dropped by for a smoke, beside the curly air-conditioning hose amid the sweet smell of machine oil and metal shavings, and out comes a bottle of barley tea, and he tells you he makes tools to repair construction machinery, and he has been here for 50 years. Then he puts a piece of metal in the vintage lathe and shows you how he works. He has been for the past three decades, like his father before him, the operator of Kotobuki Seisakusho, Kotobuki Engineering, or Kotobuki Small Machining.
The neighbourhood’s name Kotobuki you can translate as Felicitations, though Hallelujah also comes close – how about that: Hallelujah Small Machining! That’s rather apt, since Kondo’s trade puts him in that celebrated category of craftsmen who have become a national boast, for how they hand-machine parts to tolerances that no computer assistance can achieve. Although, of course, only a small number of them do that. All most of them do is carry a good burden of the nation’s manufacturers by delivering reliably honed components on tight schedules and for reportedly ever-less money.
And now for reasons you don’t know, it is time to move. The elderly lady next door says she still expects him to pop in through this month. You hope the stuffed creatures fulfilled their purpose and sowed dreams in the minds of the grandchildren, for whom Mr Kondo hung them.