Eiji Kinoshita – Traditional Japanese Pottery
Eiji Kinoshita creates unique earthenware whose every creation is a new discovery of its own. Moving from the potter’s wheel, he became attracted to the natural beauty of stones and tiles. It is their forms that he transforms into ceramic earthenware.
Applying the method known as carburetting, Mr. Kinoshita’s art forms require high heat and large quantities of smoke. Permeating into the earthenware, the smoke produces the unique blacks and grays that infuse each creation with a distinctive luster. Despite their extreme beauty, his pieces are designed to be used, not just displayed.
Emika Iwashita – Fabric Designer
Emika Iwashita is a fabric designer of Tokyo-some komon (also known as Edo-komon)—the traditional art of dyeing kimono fabric with intricate, repeated patterns to create simple and stylish prints. During the Edo period, the technique was used to dye a samurai’s formal kimono. It then became popular among the common people.
After creating a design, Ms. Iwashita has the detailed pattern cut into a stencil about 16-inches square. She places the stencil on a roll of fabric that is 14-yards long. Using dyes combined with glutinous rice, she applies the paste to the stencil, carefully re-positioning the stencil to create the desired pattern. Once the dye has dried, the background color is applied, followed by steaming, washing and drying to produce the unique fabric that is used for traditional kimono and obi. Every roll of fabric is unique and Ms. Iwashita uses this fabric to craft purses, wallets and other items that can be used in everyday life.
In 2007, Ms. Iwashita became the first woman to be certified by the Japanese government as a traditional craftsperson of Tokyo-some komon.
Masaaki Yamada – Cut Glass
Masaaki Yamada is a second-generation artisan of edo kiriko which is carving designs into glassware. Kiriko started in 1834 and developed quickly in the 1890s with the introduction of rotary cutting tools. Today, traditional cutting patterns remain popular but now include the use of purple, green and black glass instead of the traditional red and lapis.
Mr. Yamada’s skills include making the base glass, then carving the delicate designs into the glass, guided only by his creative eye and skilled technique.
While beautiful for display, the glass is fragile and not tempered or heat-resistant. They should not be placed in a dishwasher, microwave or on a cooktop.It is also best not to subject kiriko glass to rapid temperature changes.
In 2002, edo kiriko was designated as a national traditional craft of Japan.
Meisho Yamasaki – Ichimatsu Dolls
Meisho Yamasaki specializes in “Ichimatsu Ningyo” or “article shaped like a human being” and makes dolls with young children’s faces. Materials and techniques go back 300 years and 74 steps are necessary for a doll’s completion. From a body of sawdust and rice glue, with eyes of glass followed with multi-layer coating, gives it a youthful appearance. Careful sculpturing gives it detail and brings forth an expression. A kimono made of cloth from antique clothes adds the final touch.
Waza Ichimatsu Video
Ms. Yamasaki is the only female Ichimatsu doll maker in Japan. If you’d like to learn more about Ms. Yamasaki’s unique place in the history of this ancient craft you can view a Japanese program by clicking the image on the right. The first segment of this Japanese television show (in english) features “Ichimatsu” dolls and Ms. Yamasaki. (The link to the video is courtesy of Japan International Broadcasting TV.)