Keyaki and Kinuta

Keyaki (zelkova) is a kind of wood which requires a substantial range of technique to shape and form. A lack of such technique and knowledge results in the wood bending and cracking. However, as long as the wood is handled properly and carefully, it becomes a heavy duty, beautifully-grained material. When creating something, having a thorough knowledge of the properties of the materials is important and this also applies to pottery-making as well.

I am using an old warehouse timber for a door of my gallery. Originally, this timber was built in as Daikoku Bashira, the main pillar* of a wealthy merchant house in the Edo era, and it was made of Keyaki (zelkova). I love the beauty of Keyaki and its character**, I really had wanted to use it for the entrance door. The wood has its own personality just like soil. For this reason, I have decided to apply it as a symbol of which my direction should be.

Kinuta is a tool used to beat straw to soften it. Even though not considered a piece of art or craftwork, if regarded as an artwork, one will realize its true beauty and become attracted to its figure. I aim for all my works to have a perfect form, whether they are considered artwork or just an object.

The wooden tools of Japanese folk art called MINGEI* were not designed and made for the purpose of creating something looking beautiful. However, they happened to be beautiful as a result of pursuing functionality as a tool and the beauty of the materials themselves.

The Mingei movement is a lifestyle culture movement advocated by Muneyoshi Yanagi, Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Hamada, and others in 1926. In those days, ornamental pieces with ornate decorations were the mainstream in the craft world. They called the tools of daily life produced by nameless artisans “Mingei (folk crafts)” and advocated that they were as beautiful as works of art, saying that beauty is in our lives. They proposed a new way of looking at beauty and the value of beauty, saying that the folk art born in the local climate and rooted in daily life has a “healthy beauty” based on its use. This has something to do with an era in which industrialization has progressed and mass-produced products have gradually permeated our lives. They were concerned about the diminishing culture of “handicraft” in various parts of Japan and warned against the easy flow of modernization = westernization. Through the Mingei movement, they pursued not only material enrichment but also a better life.