On our recent trip to Japan during our son's spring break, we had a chance to visit Kurikyu in Akita, a prefecture located in the northern part of Japan.
Our last visit with them was more than 15 years ago.
We were running a little late due to some car problems, so it was a pity we missed seeing how the craftspeople soak and boil the thinly sliced cedar wood before they bend them into shape.
The image above shows the molds used to shape Kurikyu's beer cups. To our surprise they are all made from surgical medical tape. This method was invented by Kurikyu's current master Shunji Kurimori.
We counted around five craftspeople in the studio when we visited, all working very hard. Bending, gluing, sanding, inspecting and then branding their products, with deep concentration.
Unfortunately the very energetic and humorous Mr. Kurimori was absent due to the fact that he's away on a demonstration tour of his products in Tokyo, but Mrs. Kurimori welcomed us warmly, very much like our very first encounter with her! We had a wonderful time chatting about our memories – like the one where my husband, Taku, and I showed up at their studio over 20 years ago before we moved to the US!
For anyone planing to visit Japan soon, we encourage you to go and meet Mr. Kurimori on his current demonstration tour. He is in Tokyo at Nihonbashi Takashimaya from 5/24 - 5/30, and in Nagoya at Nagoya Takashimaya from 5/31 - 6/6. Later perhaps he may be found at many more locations across Japan on subsequent dates!
We very much enjoyed our studio visit to Kurikyu, and thank them for their warm welcome! We look forward to supporting Kurikyu at Tortoise for many years in the future.
You can find all of our Kurikyu products on our website here, as well as at our brick and mortar location. We hope you all get to experience the pleasure of this beautiful 400 year old woodcraft – it is truly one of a kind!