Murata Eye Glasses: The most comfortable eyeglasses in the world
みよちゃん セインさん。今回、ご案内する老舗は日本橋にあるメガネ店「村田眼鏡舗」です。
Thayne-san, today we will be visiting an eyeglass shop in Nihonbashi.
It’s well known as a favorite shop of the Imperial Household. Well, shall we go in?

(村田) ようこそ、セインさん。村田乾です。
Thayne-san, welcome! I’m Murata Kan.
セインさん こんにちは、村田さん。明るくてモダンで雰囲気のいいお店ですね。アメリカ合衆国の歴史よりも古いお店だそうですね。
Mr. Murata, good afternoon. What a nice store―it’s really bright and modern-looking, but I hear your shop’s history goes back even further than the United States.
(村田) はい。もとは京都で、御所の鏡師をしていたんです。
That’s right. We were the official eyeglasses shop for the old imperial palace in Kyoto.
In 1615, the first year of the Edo Period, the Shogunate asked us to move to the new capital of Edo.
セインさん では、江戸でのお得意様は、江戸城の大奥!
So your new customers were the women living in the inner palace of Edo Castle!
(村田) はい。詳しい史料は残っていませんが、たくさんの鏡をお納めと思います。
Not many historical records have survived, but I think we did indeed make many eyeglasses for them.
In 1862, when Princess Kazu was married to the 14th shogun Tokugawa Iemochi, we were charged with making her a pair of eyeglasses. This was our final work.
セインさん すごい!
(村田) その後、11代目の村田長兵衛が、メガネ作りの技術を習得して、明治5年(1872)に、この日本橋にメガネ専門店を開店しました。
Eleven generations later, Murata Chobei studied the craftsmanship of eyeglasses and opened this store in Nihonbashi in 1872.
Up until then, we sold imported eyeglasses, but it wasn’t until the Meiji era that eyeglasses were produced in any large numbers in Japan.
In the display case is a hand mirror (crafted by Murata Yamashironokami) and a woodblock print for the shop from the Edo Period, which really give you a sense of the shop’s history.
Eyeglasses from the Edo Period. The frame is made from the hooves of a water buffalo, and the lenses are made of crystal.
みよちゃん 日本のメガネの歴史が、そこから本格的に始まるんですね。
So the history of eyeglasses in Japan really starts at that point, doesn’t it?
Both Ito Hirobumi, Japan’s first prime minister, and Natsume Soseki, a novelist of the Meiji and Taisho periods, were loyal patrons.
I hear that there are also loyal customers in the Imperial Household.
セインさん 昭和天皇のメガネも、そうなんですってね。あのメガネは、とっても個性的ですね。
Including Emperor Showa. His eyeglasses were extremely unique.
(村田) 同じ型のメガネがありますから、セインさん、掛けてごらんになりますか?
We have eyeglasses of the same style right here. Would you like to try them on?
セインさん ちょっと緊張しちゃうけど…、じゃあ、ためしに……。
Well I don’t know… Oh all right, I’ll give them a try…
Wow, these are actually really light! They feel great!
Thayne-san wearing eyeglasses fashioned in the same style as those worn by Emperor Showa.
(村田) メガネって、鼻の付け根と耳と両方で支えるでしょう。そのバランスが、大切なんです。掛け心地が良いと軽く感じますし、疲れません。この掛け心地を整えるのが、メガネ店の大事な仕事です。
Eyeglasses are supported by both the nose and the ears, of course, and that balance is really important.
If they fit right, they’ll feel light and you won’t get tired of wearing them.
Adjusting the balance is a very important job of the eyeglasses shop.鼻の形も耳の形も、100人いたら100パターンあるでしょう。
オーダーメイドでは、その人の鼻形を取って作り、メガネができた後、掛け心地をうかがいながら、微妙なところを調整していくんです。No two people have the exact same combination of nose and ear shapes.
To make custom-made eyeglasses, the shape of the person’s nose is measured, and after the glasses are made, the client tries them on. Then we make minor adjustments based on how the customer feels about them.
Before crafting custom eyeglasses, the customer’s nose shape is carefully measured. Each person’s nose is unique.
みよちゃん まさに、その人のためのメガネに仕上げるんですね。
So each pair of glasses is made precisely for that person.
Nevertheless, you look really good in those glasses, Thayne-san!
セインさん ありがとう。メガネがいいんですよ。日本のメガネは、世界一でしょう?
Thank you. I’ve heard Japanese eyeglasses are the best in the world. Right?
(村田) 世界一かどうかは、その人の価値観によると思うんですが、実は僕もそう思っているんです。
Well, I think that depends on the individual, but personally I agree with you.僕は4年間、ドイツの2軒のメガネ店で修業していたので、西洋のメガネをたくさん見る機会があったんですが、ある時、休暇をとって日本に帰ってきた時、父のコレクションを見て、日本のメガネってきれいだなあ、と思いました。
I worked for a couple of German eyeglass shops for four years, so I had the opportunity to see lots of Western eyeglasses, but once when I was home on vacation, I took a look at my father’s eyeglasses collection, and thought,Wow, Japanese eyeglasses really are beautiful.

The beauty of the overall form and the use of materials are splendid, and the hand-craftsmanship that goes into everything, right down to each tiny screw, is masterful. Careful thought is put into even the smallest details that aren’t usually noticed. I think this exquisiteness is beautiful in its own way.

セインさん そういう素晴らしい日本の職人さんの技術は、この先も伝えられていきますか?
Will the knowledge of this wonderful Japanese craftsmanship continue to be passed on?
(村田) 実は、少し心配な状況です。
Frankly, it is a question of some concern.まず、熟練した、名人芸ともいえるような技術を習得するには大変長い時間がかかるので、次の人が育つまでが大変なんです。 職人さんが少ないので、今、ご注文をいただいても1年待ち、3年待ちになってしまうものもあります。
First of all, since it takes an extremely long time to acquire the skill necessary to produce eyeglasses worthy of being called masterpieces, training apprentice craftsmen takes a lot of work.
Since there are so few craftsmen, it can take a year or even three years before the eyeglasses are complete.
セインさん 3年!
Three years!
みよちゃん つまり、超一流の技術で作り上げられる商品をそれなりの値段を支払って買い求めるお客様がある程度いないと、だめなんですね。
In other words, you need to have at least a minimum number of clients willing to pay a higher price for a product made with the very best craftsmanship.
In that sense, your shop has been able to pass down the art of making eyeglasses for over 400 years by connecting the craftsmen with customers.
Eyeglasses with earpieces made of tortoiseshell. Rare indeed!
(村田) そうですね。昔からのいいものを文化としてとらえて残していけたらと思っています。もちろん、新しいものも提案してきますよ。
That’s true. I hope that the skilled craftsmanship embodied by our eyeglasses is seen as a kind of cultural asset and can be passed on as such to future generations.
Of course, we are also coming up with new ideas.
セインさん 最後に、読者のみなさんも聞いてみたいと思っていると思うのですが、どうすれば、自分に似合うメガネを選ぶことができますか?
Lastly, I’m sure many of our readers are curious about how to select the right pair of eyeglasses for your face?
(村田) そうですね。大切なのは、全身を見るということです。
Well, it’s important to look at your whole body.
Often people select a pair of glasses after looking in a mirror that only shows their face, but try looking at yourself in a full-length mirror so you can see your whole body.それから、掛け心地ですが、掛けた途端に「ああ、これはぴったり」と思ったメガネは、いいですよ。
And I also recommend going with a pair of eyeglasses that feel great from the very moment you put them on.
セインさんみよちゃん なるほど! 今日は本当にありがとうございました。
I see! Thank you so much for your time today.
(文)太田美代 (英訳)デイビッド・A・セイン
■David Thayne(デイビッド・セイン)プロフィール