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Niwaraku Kei Truck

A day in the life of Niwaraku

(aka Mr Masaru Suzuki)

Back in late 2022, when Niwaki Will was over in Japan to visit Yuri at Niwaki Kagurazaka, meet some blacksmiths and help out with the photo shoot for our most recent catalogue, the team gathered to spend a day with friend of Niwaki, Masaru-san, also known as Niwaraku. Does that name sound familiar to you? Eagle-eyed readers will remember his starring role on the cover of the 2021 Niwaki catalogue (hat, jacket and general air of stylishness – model’s own).

Niwaraku kindly let team Niwaki tag along for a day of gentle gardening, sightseeing and spicy sushi rolls. Yuri took notes and a few pics while Soeda (our man with a cam in Japan) snapped a few more: so without further ado, here’s the report Yuri sent back to Niwaki HQ:

Niwaki Catalogue 2021

Niwaki Catalogue 2021

Meet up / 待ち合わせ

We meet up Niwaraku at a local supermarket called Yamaki, nearby the client garden

He has showed us the paper that jotted down his schedule of the day, it was cool his hand writing with cute stamp.

Also he gave us some his original products as omiyage / おみやげ (gift). He likes to make his original products such as cap/tenugui/jacket etc with his own logo prints.

Niwaraku slips on a pair of Tabi Work Boots
Unpacking the kei truck before getting to work

Get to work / 仕事スタート

His one of a client house of the day was in Kataseyama area in Kamakura. This area was developed about 40 years ago, to retire people/family and the kind of people have second house etc. – quite a posh area. The problem is few young people live in that area.

The owner in this house also have another house in Tokyo and recently spend a lots of time in Tokyo so they away when the visit day. So Niwaraku try to tidy up little by little.

The wooden deck is made by Niwaraku too about 10 years ago. He does kind of work for garden too.

Niwaraku Original Tripod Ladder and Barracuda Clippers
Tidy up time

Conversation in a middle of work / 仕事中の会話

He loves film and music. His favourite film is the Quadrophenia, so he is interested in UK culture too.

He loves his work but not really do gardening on his spare time.

He sometimes has a female assistant who used to work with him in a clothing company. She is still working at the same company in the week and help him at weekends, especially when Niwaraku is very busy – instead of gym as exercise!

He always use a pair of Barracuda (he called them “utility” / 万能) Clippers and a pruning saw, like the Niwaki Moku Pruning Saw.

At the hardware store
Trusty Kei truck

Hara Sho-ko / 原商工

He bring us to the speciality store for gardener/nursery. There are so many kind of wooden material from all around the world but the bamboo are all from Japan.

Trusty kei truck

Zaimokuza in Kamakura / 材木座
Temple name: Komyo-ji / 光明寺

Niwaraku has helped to make their garden with his team and gardener from Kyoto, around 10 years ago.

It was quite tough work to all take the water and carp in a pond, move in massive rock to the mountain side and start to move in to the garden by spider crane.

Find out more:

Contemplating past works

Lunch / お昼ごはん

He took us his favorite ramen shop for the lunch near Kamakura station. Negi miso ramen is his recommend (“negi” is spring onions aka scallions).

Negi Miso Ramen
Chigazaki crossing

After lunch
Green Recycle Miyako / グリーンリサイクルみやこ

He always bring rubbish like wood, leaves etc after work to recycle to make to compost. You can take the compost as free.

Green Recycle Miyako

Later that day …
Conversation in the Sushi Restaurant / 寿司屋での会話

Yuri: How long have you been living in Tsujido?

Niwaraku: Around 20 years. I used to visit Tsujido quite often by my motor bike, so move to here just on a whim. I was working at the clothing company and the office was in Nakameguro, Tokyo when I move in Tsujido.

I didn’t have much friend around this area but try to enter the sushi restaurant is the first time. The owner (pictured) was very kind of me since then I became one of a regular. Sometime visit after work for sake and sushi.

The owner’s son running a sushi restaurant in NY. I have visited him, also because one of my bucket list was see the Times Square countdown, and that much close to the Sushi restaurant family.

Sushi shop owners
Sushi time

Y: Why did you change your career to Niwashi (gardener)?

N: Not really big reason but I wanted to something by myself and do something Japanese. And now work is my hobby.

Y: Where do you usually buy tree for your customer?

N: There is a place in the mountain at Fujisawa city which close to my place. I normally select some tree from there. Also, there are quite lots of place to buy flower/plants/green in Kanagawa prefecture so mainly buy all stuff within Kanagawa, here is a great location to work as gardener.

Y: Do you have any clients from abroad based in Japan?

N:Yes, I have. One of a client is from US even, running Airbnb in renovated old Japanese house in Kamakura.

At the end of the supper, we had bloody spicy sushi roll which have only wasabi in the rice and seaweed roll called ‘Namidamaki’ - ‘namida’ means cry, ‘maki’ is sushi roll.

We all cry out indeed! Well, Will has survived actually! And when we finished party, Soeda (photographer) has been stuck in a toilet quite long time.

~ Yuri


So there you have it: unedited, uncensored day in the life of Niwaraku (when Will, Yuri and Soeda are following him about, anyway).

Big thanks to the man himself and to Yuri for her journalism skills. Until next time – kampai/cheers!