Thanks for the link. To me it illustrates the Japanese love (madness?) of "crafting on the edge" of disaster. They build a high level of risk into all of their craft processes that I have studied.
I've done wood bending with a heat gun. It works the same way, minus the scorching of the wood. Unless you let the heat gun sit in one spot too long. Then it will scorch. I wonder if luthiers have scorching issues with their bending irons that they use to make instrument sides (like guitars).
The goal is to get the wood hot enough to plasticize the lignin slowly enough that the wood doesn't discolor before it limbers up. It's a cumulative process which, if hurried, will combust the outer layers of cellulose and discolor the wood.
The Q&A conveyed the usual strictness and harshness, from a western perspective, of the Japanese apprentice system that is common in societies with too many people they don't know what to do with. Not knowing what else to do with all those people, such groups will usually construct mechanisms for brutalizing each other in the name of testing "Are you good enough?" The formalization of cruelty (in our eyes) and its attendant physical & emotional expression is easily found in such crowded societies. In these places, the saying "The beatings will continue until morale improves" is not likely to be seen as a joke. It is S.O.P.
That said, the results that such stringent testing and proving can produce are IMHO truly impressive. Hence my extreme appreciation and affection for the incredibly high standards of Japanese craftsmanship, since I try to keep on the radar the cost in individual degradation in apprenticeship and ongoing commitment in continued practice it takes to produce crafts at their level.
"For true creativity, we have to think beyond our tools." - MsNomer -
"Measuring is the enemy of precision." - Chris Schwarz on story sticks -
"only one opinion counts, the one that pays." - daveferg -