Back in 1995 I became the precious materials product manager at Rio Grande. As a new manager, I began reading National Jeweler magazine, and one day, I came across an article about a new jewelry-making material from Japan, Precious Metal Plasticene, which was invented by Dr. Morikawa of Mitsubishi Materials Corp.
By 1996, it had been renamed Precious Metal Clay (PMC®) and Rio Grande began sales to the USA.
Earlier this summer, during the 5th biennial PMC Conference, I finally had the opportunity to meet Dr. Morikawa. Despite all the years I’ve been involved in the PMC business, and despite my work with many Japanese associates from Mitsubishi, I had never before had the honor of meeting Dr. Morikawa himself. Though I’d had breakfast the first two mornings with many conference attendees, including Dr. Morikawa, I had hardly done more than say hello – constrained, as I was, by the business chatter of the others at the table and his lack of English/my lack of Japanese.
Then, one evening Rio threw a party for all 300 attendees of the conference. At the party, I was determined to have a conversation with the man I’ve held in such high esteem for so long. So we tried.
My impression was that he was around 60 years of age. He was rail thin and had a kind face. I asked him if he’d spent any time working with PMC, the product that he’d invented.
He smiled and said, “No, just thinking!” and pointed to his head.
Then, I asked if he had some other new ideas about PMC (PMC Pro, the newest version, had just been announced, earlier in the conference), and he shrugged and told me “I am tired. I just want to do my hobbies: water painting and walking.”
I understood water painting to mean water colors. Then, he pulled a pedometer from his pocket, with a number over 4000 on it. He explained that he had taken 4,000+ steps that day, but that he tries to take 10,000 steps each day.
Next, he pulled a business card from his pocket and showed me his Kanji (Japanese written characters). Valiantly, he attempted to lead me through the meaning of the characters. We ultimately sought translation help from two other Japanese gentlemen, and I finally understood…
The Kanji on his card are the same Kanji he uses to sign his water colors.
There are five major characters. The first three are grouped together as a “family name”, and then the final two are grouped together as a “personal name.” (This is conventional Japanese styling.)
The fifth character means “steps” or “walking”.
Dr. Morikawa explained that if he takes 10,000 steps each day, 365 days a year, for 30 years- he will attain his goal of taking 100 million steps. (I did the math, and he is right.)
So, his complete artistic signature translates to “100 Million Steps Dream Studio.” It took me more than half an hour to piece together the meaning, but I’m happy to pass it on for you to appreciate, in just a few moments.
I have a lot of admiration for Dr. Morikawa. He gave the world PMC, a gift that continues to fuel artistic dreams and creations, and he aspires to his own dreams, through his art, his daily walks, and in his artistic signature.