Furniture retailer Inform Interiors will be hosting four Shokunin—the Japanese word for a craftsman—at their Vancouver offices this weekend, who will hold a variety of workshops and discuss how their work maintains strong bonds to the traditions of their ancestors while anticipating the needs of future generations. Takahiro Yagi, Shuji Nakagawa, Toru Tsuji, and Zenya Imanishi will guide participants through four stations exploring their disciplines: making metal tea caddies, wooden buckets, kitchen utensils out of woven wire, and traditional Japanese confectionary. Below, we introduce you to each craftsman.
Kaikado was established in 1875 in the city of Kyoto by Seisuke, creator of their first signature tin tea caddy. With a manufacturing process that involves up to 140 steps, this 130-year-old Chazutsu (tea caddy) remains Kaikado's signature product and is appreciated for its sleek and functional, airtight design. Takahiro Yagi, who now runs the company, has developed a two-tiered tea caddy and is focused on bringing this object to tea aficionados all over the world.
Shuji Nakagawa is a third-generation carpenter at Nakagawa Mokkougei, a studio dedicated to passing on the woodworking traditions of the Kyoto region. Nakagawa has been exploring ways of adapting the design of traditional wooden buckets to modern life. He was a finalist for the 2017 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize and his work can be found in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.
Toru Tsuji is a co-founder of Kanaami-Tsuji, which creates a range of objects inspired by the traditional metal-knitting craftsmanship of Kyo-Kanaami, which is believed to be more than ten centuries old. Using traditional hand-weaving techniques known as kiku-dashi, they craft contemporary kitchen utensils.
Zenya Imanishi works at Kagizen Yoshifusa, a confectionary specializing in Kyoto-style sweets which dates back to the mid-Edo period. The recipes have barely changed and the sweets are made of carefully selected ingredients through the skilled handwork of craftsmen like Imanishi. The taste is just one element, with equal attention being paid to the presentation of the candies—and that's just one of the skills participants can expect to pick up during the workshop.
In addition to a lecture by all four craftsmen that will take place tonight, six workshops will be held on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8, so if you're local to Vancouver consider checking them out!