An interview with LinNe

An interview with LinNe

Straight sound and the resonance
— for the people who feel “I want this sound”


May 2024

Located in Kyoto with more than 200 years of history, Nanjo Kobo Ltd specializes in the production of ritual articles made of metal such as the metal bell known as “orin” which is a Buddhist instrument, as well as the metal bells performed at traditional festivals including the Gion Festival.  In 2019, the orin brand LinNe was launched with the concept to bring people and orin closer in their everyday lives. In March while it was still a little chilly, I made a visit to the LinNe studio located at some distance from the city center of Kyoto to see the traditional craftsmanship up close and learn about their story in person.

 Nanjo Kobo

At the studio of Nanjo Kobo, I was greeted by Yukiko Nanjo, the brand manager of LinNe.  She guided me through the studio as we followed the manufacturing process.  From the beginning to the end, every single process takes place in the studio. I was overwhelmed by the numerous handwork processes and how focused the artisans were in silence.


“Sahari”: the key component of the beautiful resonance

The first thing to know about the LinNe products is the ingredients.  All products of the Nanjo Kobo are made with the “sahari” alloy, a mixed metal made from copper and plenty of tin.  The studio’s unique formula of sahari alloy is attained from their long years of research, producing beautiful and comfortable sound. Since ancient times, the clear sound of sahari has been believed to have the power to ward off evil and purify. 


Production of the small orin bell, “Chibi”.  Experienced artisans shave the bells accurately.


Kazuya Nanjo, the 7th generation of the Nanjo Kobo, greeted me at the back of the studio. He was working on the cutting.  Quickly scraped sahari looked like some dried bonito shavings. It is metal, but the texture seemed to be soft. That is a characteristic of sahari which is hard yet fragile.


Bask in the “sound”

There are many opportunities now to listen to digital sound, so perhaps most people don’t get to experience analogue sound so much.

“There’s hardly any problem with digital sound, so most likely people don’t really have a craving for live sound. That might be why many people are caught by surprise or feel refreshed when they hear this sound,” Yukiko Nanjo said.

When you ring an orin bell, you would feel as if a straight line of sound has entered smoothly into the depth of your ears, thoroughly.  Digital sound transmits only sounds that are audible to human ear, so you could say that the upper and lower range are cut off.  The sound of orin is straight and unwavering until the last moment. It doesn’t end abruptly, but disappears ever so subtly that you can’t tell if the sound is still there or not.  In that way, your ears chase the faintest trace of sound, and then the “switch” of your audible sensitivity is flipped on; you’ll be able to pick up sounds that were not audible to your ears before.

“Your sense of hearing becomes sharper by listening, so if you listen to the sound of LinNe orin in a forest, other sounds will gradually become clear to your ears.  You would be able to hear the sound of a stream and subtle sounds in a forest.  That’s a very comfortable feeling,” said Kazuya Nanjo. 

“Lingering tones” is said to be the most important part of the sound production of LinNe orin.  It is not about the first note, but how the sound resonates, is it straight, and how is it going to disappear.

Many Singing Bowls (bowl shaped orin) were lined up. I rang them one by one by gently circling the rim with the stick, and then clear sound resonated all at once and expanded into the space.  The ringing sound was supposed to be happening right in front of my eyes, but it felt like the sound was falling from up above, it was an amazing feeling.  It was like basking in the sound, being wrapped up in the sound.  Instinctively I knew that my ears were following where the sound is going.


Striving to produce the sound that people want

“ ‘This is what our studio can produce, the sound we commit to.  If you like it, please enjoy it as you like.’ That’s our basic standpoint.  Instead of us deciding what is good, we feel that there is more room to expand if people can get to know the sound first and then come up with ideas about how to use it,” said Kazuya Nanjo.

The LinNe brand has increased opportunities for them to receive feedback from various people. For the first time, they realized that the sound they have created are being enjoyed by the people this much.

“Even though the sound of orin is so good, it was being unnoticed almost to the point where nobody knew about it,” he said.  But lately, new possibilities of orin are being discovered by new viewpoint of sound creators and the generations who are not familiar with orin.  Precisely because they don’t know orin as a Buddhist instrument, they are genuinely interested in the sound itself.

Until now, the studio’s work was completed when the products were delivered to the client. But by communicating with all kinds of people, their mindset including those of artisans have changed.

It’s not over when artisans are happy with the sound they created; they are willing to go beyond self-satisfaction, and produce the sound that people want.

For what kind of situation and how you would want to use orin is up to individuals. It can be free with the times. The sound of LinNe orin resonates in daily life of each and every person for years to come.


At CIBONE, we carry “Chibi” and “Myo” series with Kyoto’s traditional craft kumihimo in the colors exclusive to CIBONE.  Please stop by at our store and take a listen to the sound of orin.

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Tips for a long-lasting relationship with orin

  • “Sahari” is a hard metal alloy. It is prone to break when strong impact is applied.  Please treat it in the way you would handle glass.
  • Please be careful not to drop or hit the orin bell. It will get cracked. Once cracked, the sound will never be the same even by repair.
  • If there is a stain on the orin bell, apply a soft cloth and wipe gently.  Not like how you would wipe off fingerprint, but blending it onto the surface. No strong rubbing, please handle gently.
  • If you are concerned with the stain, polish the orin with a copper-polish cloth and liquid polish.
  • The color of orin may change over time, but the sound remains unchanged.
  • The standing orin, “LinNe Myo” is rung by the stick. Please do not touch the orin bell.


Interview:Nanjo Kobo “LinNe”

Text & Photo by Haruka Kei (CIBONE)
Translation by Reiko Hogen