While many people today aren’t even considering reading paper books, Japanese craftsman Okano Nobuo has been repairing old, tattered books and making them look brand new. Using simple tools like a wooden press, chisel, water and glue, Okano can make even incredibly, centuries old books look like they just came out of the press.
He and his craft recently gained a lot of attention when a client brought a 1,000-page English-Japanese dictionary, and the restoration process was detailed on a Japanese show called Fascinating Craftsman (Shuri, Bakaseru). The painstaking process included individually unfolding every page’s corners with a tweezers and ironing them so that they stay straight.
But Okano’s skill is not just about restoring things – he makes some things disappear too, like the initials of an old girlfriend, for example. When some pages are just beyond repair, they are glued on new sheets of paper. Last but not least, he puts the cover in an entirely new spotlight.
For someone who developed such a remarkable craft towards protecting books, Okano’s attitude is very humble:
“It’s not their shape or form but what’s inside them that attracts us to books,” he says.
His work is a testament to the value that physical books still carry – and hopefully, will always carry.
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