TAKUMI

The Arts and Crafts of Hida Takayama

The Japanese Arts Network is honored to have the opportunity to share the art and beauty of the craftsmen of Takayama, Denver's Sister City in Japan, through this digital exhibition and a panel conversation which was held with the artists during March of 2021.  We had originally planned to share this art exhibition with the Denver community in-person, however unfortunately due to COVID-19 we decided it was not safe or responsible to open the gallery to the public. JA-NE would like to thank the City of Takayama for the opportunity to be able to share this unique collection of remarkable craft.  We also honor that 2020 marked the 60th anniversary year of the Denver/Takayama Sister city relationship.  Thank you very much to these magnificent artists, to The Source Hotel for hosting us, to Japan House LA, Denver/Takayama Sister Cities, the City of Takayama, and the Consul General of Japan in Colorado,  We look forward to the continuous exchange of art between our cities and countries. 

About the Exhibit

Takayama is the largest city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu prefecture located in central  Japan. Surrounded by dense forests, Hida and Takayama, in particular, have long been a source of  top-grade timber and highly skilled carpenters, who came to be known as Hida no takumi, the master craftsmen of Hida.

In the early eighth century, the Hida no takumi name achieved prominence through a directive of  the imperial government implemented, under which the Hida region provided woodworkers to the  imperial capital in place of taxation. Over the next 600 years, as part of the Hida no takumi system,  40,000 to 50,000 carpenters and artisans were sent to the ancient capital, presently known as Nara,  to build now-famous shrines and temples. Hida's craftsmen started as workers and stepped into  supervisor roles at the many construction sites at Nara and their hands and skills shaped many of  Japan’s most ancient wooden structures. For 1,300 years, even after the system ended, these  craftsmen and techniques remained in the town, and region is still renowned for its takumi. There  are several national treasure crafts from the region (total 235 crafts as of November 2019). 

Fukujyu Shunkei Lacquerware Studio
Fukujyu Shunkei Lacquerware Studio
Fukujyu Shunkei Lacquerware Studio
Fukujyu Shunkei Lacquerware Studio 
Ryota Fukujyu (b. 1961)  
The Hida Shunkei lacquerware Lacquer Artisan 
*National Treasure Craft 

The Fukujyu Shunkei Lacquerware Studio was established in 1850. Currently, fifth-generation owner Ryota Fukujyu leads the work, overseeing ten artisans in the creation of traditional lacquerware with a touch of modern taste.

 

The Fukujyu studio elevates the essence of Hida Shunkei lacquerware in its ability to encapsulate both practicality and beauty, as well as the history of Hida.

Shingen Bento Box (Lunch box) 

Japanese cypress, Shunkei Lacquer

Shingen Takeda was a preeminent daimyō in feudal Japan with exceptional military prestige in the 1600s. When hunting, he took his lunch packed in beautiful lacquerware. As a result, in Japan lunches packed in lacquerware are now known as Shingen lunch.

Square Bento Box
(Lunch Box)

Japanese cypress, Shunkei Lacquer

Three Nesting Boxes
of 6.5 Sun*

Japanese cypress, Shunkei Lacquer

*traditional Japanese measurement: 1 Sun equals 3com/1.18in

Kosaka Choubou Studio 
Ayayuki Kosaka Ⅱ (b. 1969) 
Ichii Woodcarvings Woodcarver 
*National Treasure Craft 

Ayayuki Kosaka Ⅱ is a second-generation woodcarver,  studying under his father, master woodcarver, Ayayuki  Kosaka. Entering his apprenticeship at the age of eighteen,  Kosaka II, together with his father, began exhibiting his  unique Hida Ichii itto bori work throughout Japan. Ichii is  Japanese yew wood, and the process of itto bori is carving  created with a single instrument (in this case, a chisel).

In 1997, Kosaka II inherited the family woodcarving studio, Kosaka Choubou. He continues his  work under the mantra “a tradition dwelling within the new.” Through his mastery of the Ichii itto  bori technique, Kosaka II carves traditional masks, hyper-real sculptures of mythical creatures, folktale characters, and scenes from daily life. He has received many prestigious international awards,  and in 2016, he contributed to the interior renovations of Nagoya Castle.

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Izutsu

Cherry Wood

Izutsu is a classic Noh play written by Zeami. The main character is deeply in love with her husband. After they both pass away, she appears to a monk offering continued praise of her partner.

Turban Shell

Japanese cassia wood

Izutsu

Cherry Wood

Izutsu is a classic Noh play written by Zeami. The main character is deeply in love with her husband. After they both pass away, she appears to a monk offering continued praise of her partner.

Beshimi
(Noh Mask)

Cherry Wood

Okina
(Noh Mask)

Ichii (Japanese yew wood)

Kosaka Choubou Studio
Ayayuki Kosaka II (b. 1969)
Woodcarver

Ayayuki Kosaka II is a second-generation woodcarver, studying under his father, master woodcarver, Ayayuki Kosaka. Entering his apprenticeship at the age of eighteen, Kosaka II, together with his father, began exhibiting his unique Hida Ichii itto bori work throughout Japan. Ichii is Japanese yew wood, and the process of itto bori is carving created with a single instrument (in this case, a chisel).

 

In 1997, Kosaka II inherited the family woodcarving studio, Kosaka Choubou. He continues his work under the mantra “a tradition dwelling within the new.” Through his mastery of the Ichii itto bori technique, Kosaka II carves traditional masks, hyper-real sculptures of mythical creatures, folktale characters, and scenes from daily life. He has received many prestigious international awards, and in 2016, he contributed to the interior renovations of Nagoya Castle.

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Menpou
(Miniature Noh Mask)

Maple and cherry wood

This mask represents those used in traditional Noh theater and dance performance

Menpou
(Miniature Noh Mask)

Maple and cherry wood

This mask represents those used in traditional Noh theater and dance performance

Sakura (Cherry blossom)
Tea Utensil

Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VI

Shibukusa Ryuzo Kiln
Shibukusa Ryuzo Ⅵ (b. 1946)
Shibukusa Ryuzo Ⅶ (b. 1979) Ceramicist

The Shibukusa Ryuzo kiln, now in its seventh generation, is one of the oldest potteries in Hida and has continued to seek new and modern Shibukusa-yaki designs while preserving the tradition. The sixthgeneration Ryuzo Toda started pottery from a young age and formally entered an apprenticeship with his father Shibukusa Ryuzo V at twenty years old. He received his master’s name Shibukusa Ryuzo VI in 1981. His work is renowned for its traditional style; elaborate, detailed, and distinctively colored cherry blossom paintings; and red-dyed porcelain with classic Shibukusa-yaki texture.

 

Today the sixth and seventh generations work together. The second son of Shibukusa Ryuzo VI, Tetsuhito Toda, now Shibukusa Ryuzo VII, studied at Kanazawa College of Art, and upon graduation became a disciple of his father. In 2014, he debuted as a potter, taking inspiration from contemporary design. The following year, he launched the brand 4293 (read SHI-BU-KU-SA, relating to the phonetic pronunciation of the numbers in Japanese), and he is currently working as the art director for the kiln, aiming to create a new style of Shibukusa-yaki while redefining the value of traditional crafts in a contemporary lifestyle. He has collaborated with artists from a variety of fields, such as apparel design and music, presenting his work in Milan and across the globe. Each successive generation continues to develop their own style of Shibukusa-yaki at the Shibukusa Ryuzo kiln.

Sakura (Cherry blossom)
Incense Burner

Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VI

Ah (Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII)
(Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII)
Un (Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII)
Rikinosuke Oniwaka (Sumo wrestler, 1848-54)
Un

Sakura (Cherry blossom)
Tea Bowl

Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VI

Sakura (Cherry blossom)
Vase

Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VI

Untitled

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII

Ginpu Rougetsu

"Writing a poem under the
moon while feeling the breeze"

 

From the Irezumi (Tattoo) series
Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibkusa Ryuzo VII

Rikinosuke Oniwaka

Sumo wrestler, 1848–54

 

From the Irezumi (Tattoo) series

Shibukusa-yaki pottery

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII

Kashiwade no Omihatebi

From the Irezumi (Tattoo) series
Shibukusa-yaki pottery


Kashiwade no Omihatebi was a powerful
family clan in Japan that controlled many lands
and worked for emperor Kinmei. Around AD
545, Kashiwade no Omihatebi, acting as an
ambassador, was sent to Korea with his family.
One snowy night, his young child disappeared.
As he searched for the child, he came upon tiger footprints in the snow. Tracking the
footprints, he found the tiger and slayed it with
his sword. He brought the tiger skin back to
Japan. He is considered the greatest warrior.

Made by Shibukusa Ryuzo VII

Norihiko Yoshimoto (b. 1949)
Kirie Artist

The Japanese art of papercutting, kirigami (cut paper), was established around the eighth century as commercial handmade paper became increasingly available. During this period, artisans were cutting a variety of shapes, including animals, letters, and landscapes, often for use in Shinto rituals. In the Hida region, kazarigami, which translates as “decoration paper,” is a unique paper art tradition that has been proudly carried on as part of the seasonal Takayama festivals. Over time, papercutting artisans have informed the development of other traditional Japanese crafts, such as dyed and woven fabrics that feature patterns created through a papercut-inspired approach. After World War II, many Japanese papercutting artists were influenced by Western-style paintings. In an effort to distinguish these graphic paper works of art from more traditional Japanese paper craft such as kirigami, the cultural community began to use the term kirie (cut paper picture).


Norihiko Yoshimoto moved to the Hida-Takayama area at the age of fifteen. He taught himself the traditional art of papercutting, and is the pioneer of a style of kirie called “wa modern” (which means traditional Japanese taste mixed with a modern Western style).
He has published numerous works encompassing the theme of Hida Takayama’s landscape and seasonal symbols, and has received acclaim domestically and internationally with exhibitions in Denver, New York, Paris, Cologne, and Singapore, as well as through studio visits by foreign
collectors.

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Kakishita Woody Works Co., Ltd.
(Est. 1957)

Kakishita Woody Works Co., Ltd. is a family-run company that has created wooden lighting products for half a century in Hida Takayama. Its celebrated Moare line is Japan’s first wooden lighting brand. The work of these master craftsmen of the Hida region carries tradition into the present, conveying comfort through the gentle beauty of light and the warmth of natural wood.
 

At the core of the company’s monozukuri, or holistic, start-to-finish manufacturing perspective, is light itself. However, it is the synergy of the materials and the entire design that allows the product to shine. Kakishita Woody Works aspires to create a new lighting style in tune with the traditional Hida skills that have been honed in harmony with the forest.

Tatsuya Shibuya works

Rangoushi (Lattice pattern)
Walnut, plastic-coated paper (piece on the left)

&

Floor Stand Shiromuji (Plain white)
Walnut, plastic-coated paper (piece on the right)

This product was designed by Tatsuya Shibuya. Shibuya
previously worked and designed lighting products for
Panasonic. Incorporating natural materials such as wood and
handmade washi paper is the core of his design.

Kakishita Woody
Works x Heikki Ruoho (b. 1969).

Right: H+ Stand (Beech)
Beech, plastic-coated paper

 

Left: H+ Stand (Walnut)
Walnut, plastic-coated paper

This product was a collaboration between Kakishita Woody Works and Heikki Ruoho (b. 1969). Ruoho is an industrial and furniture designer from Finland.

Kakishita Woody
Works x Heikki Ruoho (b. 1969).

Right: H+ Stand (Beech)
Beech, plastic-coated paper

 

Left: H+ Stand (Walnut)
Walnut, plastic-coated paper

This product was a collaboration between Kakishita Woody Works and Heikki Ruoho (b. 1969). Ruoho is an industrial and furniture designer from Finland.