With his dreadlocks, wispy beard and ornaments in his piled-high hair, Hirofumi Uchihara comes across as a Japanese version of Johnny Depp from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Simply put, Uchihara, 39, looks as far removed from the world of optometry as it is possible to imagine.
And therein lies a clue. Uchihara is an artist, and his passion is to create zany spectacle frames made to order.
"Glasses are part of your face," says Uchihara, espousing his mantra that every pair should be regarded as an accessory and, therefore, different.
"But they all end up looking the same: like a uniform," says Uchihara of his efforts to create individual identities for people who need glasses.
Last summer, Uchihara began renting a house in Suminoe, Osaka, and opened a shop-cum-gallery called Himitsu-kichi.
To enter, customers must pass through a curtain made from eyeglass frames strung together. Inside, some 150 eyeglass frame designs are on display. Asymmetrical forms are the norm. There are frames that sport a fork and spoon at the ends, and almost every combination in between.
These are just samples to whet the appetite, inspire ideas. He takes special orders to design frames to specification, and from scratch.
For these special orders, Uchihara begins by taking careful measurements of the length of the skull, the angle, the height of the eyes and the distance between them.
Uchihara explained: "The nose is not always in the dead center between both eyes. Some people will have discrepancies of four to five millimeters when you measure the respective distances from each eye to the nose."
Uchihara only believes in using his eyes and his hands in his delicate work. He doesn't use any machines of any kind.
"There are a lot of combinations of lenses you can use. Sometimes there may be 30 feasible combinations. And from that pool, you try to choose the optimum combination. Yet, a machine only gives you a portion of the right combinations."
After graduating from a training school for eyeglass production in Osaka, Uchihara worked at an optician for five years.
With limited displays of eyewear, Uchihara finally decided he had found his niche. Here is someone definitely to look out for.
For more information, visit his website (http://kakureya1632.com).
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