Nigara Blue #2 Pruning Shears (they are called Tsugaru blades)
are hand made by blacksmith Toshihisa Yoshizawa. Here is an excerpt from an interview he did serveral years ago that discuses these shears. They make about 200 a year for the local orchard growers.
Interview by Takafumi Suzuki. Translation by Claire Tanaka:
Tell me, what are some of the unique features of Tsugaru blades?
"Aomori is famous for apples. One thing that is very important for apple growers is to have a good pair of pruning shears. Pruning shears made in Tsugaru have become the standard in the orchard industry."
I see. Theyíre so highly rated that they have been chosen for the nationwide standard!
"As you may know, the environment in Aomori is very harsh, and we grow apples under these difficult conditions. There are as many farmers growing apples here as there are stars in the sky. In response to requests from these people, over the years the pruning shears have gotten more and more refined, until now they are in their present superior form. Itís only natural that they would be of the highest quality."
What are the unique features of these nationally respected Tsugaru pruning shears?
"The apple is a member of the rose family and the wood of the tree is very hard. Not only that, but the branches have to be pruned during the colder months. In other words, from the point of view of the pruner, if the shears donít cut well, they arenít any good at all. I think thatís a big reason why the blacksmiths of Tsugaru worked so hard to develop the shears. These days, I hear theyíre also the chosen pruning shears of cherry blossom tree surgeons."
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