Unrecognized artificial hands and fingers by Hiraoka


A road leading to a genius craftsman


The career of Hironori Hiraoka is interesting. He looks back his young days, “When I was a child, I was good at drawing, arts and science, and then having been graduated from university, I got a job at one of the major foreign-affiliated company for medical device.” Hironori was assigned to the work to maintain MRI, CT scans, X-ray machines and other medical machines. He often visited hospitals and medical institutions, especially for science-related work that requires medical knowledge.


Hiraoka wants to do the job no one else can do but him.


In the third year since joining the company, one day Hironori had a call from his client hospital whose medical equipment was broken down. He went for repair it and confirmed that the parts of the equipment needed to be replaced. The new parts arrived soon so he replaced it, pushed the button of the equipment, and that’s all. The medical device was reactivated and functioning properly. Without any doubt, he was an excellent engineer, however he himself wasn’t satisfied with his excellence. “Someone can do this kind of work. It’s not necessary to be me.”


Hironori couldn’t feel a sense of accomplishment for what he was doing. Maintenance of medical equipment didn’t make the most out of his ability. He began to think about changing his job, but surely, he wanted to stay in medical industry. You can’t become a prosthetist without acquiring a national qualification in Japan, so Hironori has challenged to obtain a national qualification.


Coating is also applied from the front side.


He was certain that there must be a channel for his talent in making artificial teeth, artificial legs or braces, through one-on-one interaction with those who need the device. The Prosthetics and Orthotics factories can be found in various parts of the nation and each works has its own special field, such as artificial legs or artificial hands. There are some places that are good at manufacturing moving prosthetics such as myoelectric upper limb prosthesis. Methods are different in terms of ergonomics between making the artificial leg that are cut above knee and the ones cut under knee, even in the same area of prothesis. In general, most works accept the order all around in prosthetic hands, legs, and orthotics, but in reality some places are good at manufacturing artificial hands, and the others specialize in artificial legs or orthotics. Experts are scattered all over the nation.


Artificial fingers and hands: the cut end of plaster models


Usually it takes 8 to 10 years to be fully trained as a prosthetist under one master. In Hironori’s case, he has stopped learning under the same master after a few years training and moved to a new master. He wanted to pursue a different skill under a different master as many as possible therefore repeatedly went through the prosthetic and orthotic sites one after another.


Various expressions of the artificial ears


Hironori Hiraoka launched Atelier Natural in 2014 at the young age of 33. He further explains about his career and his philosophy as a craftsman. “I think it will take 10 years at least to master 100% of the prosthetic skills under one master.” He doesn’t deny the long period of training under one master. “But you can catch up to 80% of the skills necessary for prosthetist within a first couple of years.” he continues, this means that you must spend another seven or eight years to acquire the remaining 20% of the skills.


Still the skill you obtained after such a long training is no more than the perfect copy of your master. He believes that walking along such a path can be a choice for some prosthetic trainees. “But in my case, I couldn’t be satisfied with the techniques just obtained through current masters. I wanted to pile up more techniques of making artificial hands or fingers from various masters, on which I wanted to create my own works.”


To have an ambition like Hironori did is necessary to produce a top craftsman, who goes beyond the limits of expectation. In this way I can call him as a genius. Although some people tend to evaluate the born talent as a genius, I don’t think so. Hironori Hiraoka proved the reason through what he has been experienced in his career.


Expression of fingertips of artificial fingers


Hiraoka adds, “In order to stock the 80 percent of skills you can learn from your master in the first a few years, you need to make efforts more than 100 percent. Well, maybe not, 150 percent, or even 200 percent of concentration and reviews on prosthetic techniques, you must impose to yourself—-Again and again train yourself every day, or otherwise you can’t even catch up with your master. ” There is a craftsmanship that blooms after pursuing his/her career path for a long period and finally piercing through it, while some craftsman like Hiraoka makes his success by creating his unique skills after broadening his expertise being instructed by many masters. Both of them should be styles of craftsmen that worth the title of genius to be obtained one day.


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