The prefecture of Sabae, in Fukui, has a long history of artisanal handicrafts that locals are proud of, stretching back to the era of Emperor Keitai and Wakasa.
The prefecture was famous for more than 1500 year-old Echizen lacquerware, cutlery, and sake. The shift of efforts into eyewear began in the early 20th century, when making eyeglasses became a widespread sideline to farming in winter due to the heavy weather conditions. The beginning of the craftsmenship was that each craftsman started specializing on specific parts of opticals. With the division of labor raising the expertise and level of each craftman’s skill. This is how the relatively new craft of opticals evolved to become one of the most sophisticated craft arts from Japan the world has seen.
In the eyewear industry, Sabae is especially recognised as the birthplace for titanium frame glasses. The fact that the technology of titanium processing has been applied to medical fields and electronic equipment, as well as chosen for Google Glass frames, hints at the outstanding quality.
But it is not the state-of-the-art technology solely that makes Sabae Japan’s most renowned eyeglass-manufacturing district. The craftsmen take excessive amount of time to make the eyeglasses one by one through more than 200 processes that are difficult to mechanise, such as polishing.
This mentality of “Monozukuri”- craftsmen taking pride in the fact that their glasses will become part of someone’s face - and their uncompromising work ethic lets people visibly see and feel the difference to mass-produced models. It is the fusion of the second-to-none technology with the handicraft of dedicated craftsmen that differentiate Sabae eyewear as pieces of art.
Over the years various brands have sprung up in the area, always using the craftsmen but developing new styles for each age. Some of these lines are, “Boston Club, Kamemannen, Ayame, BJ Classic.
A selection of these brands are available at our store.