Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. She visited Odawara, Kanagawa prefecture this time, and came across Yosegi-zaiku, a style of traditional marquetry comprising natural woods in various colors that are “gathered” and “grouped” to form modern patterns.
Red, yellow and white. This small, colorful box that uses the natural woods’ hues is the work of Tsuyuki Mokkōjo (Tsuyuki Woodcraft), a fourth-generation Yosegi-zaiku studio in Odawara. KASHIYUKA observed, “Through the designs of olden Japan you get a sense of the artisans’ playful spirit.”
Japanese traditional crafts are exceptionally sophisticated. What especially get our attention are those colors and patterns that continue to thrill even modern eyes. To get to understand this beauty I researched crafts in many places and came across Yosegi-zaiku in Odawara, Kanagawa. I learned that the red and green of the small boxes and the trays are the natural colors of the wood, left as is. How did this modern design come to be?
Purchase No.19【 MARQUETRY】 Modern design in woodworking that builds upon the wood’s natural coloration.
The wooden mosaic form Yosegi-zaiku combines various types of wood in geometric patterns such as fish scales or check. It’s a craft born in the late 19th century. On this day I visited Tsuyuki Mokkōjo, established 1926, and headed by third-generation certified traditional craftsman Mr. Kiyokatsu Tsuyuki, who showed me how he makes these patterns come together.
Making patterns by gathering (gluing) wooden pieces with 3~4 mm facets.
“Zuku” is the finely-planed strip of surface that is a cross section of combined wooden pieces.
“For example, for a fish scale pattern, I plane two different woods, red and white, into slim triangular prisms with faces of about 4 millimeters. I then glue eight together alternating red and white and so on, to form a one square-centimeter face.” Just one square-centimeter of surface in a vast pattern spread across each item, but it takes about a half hour to make. I’m moved by the thought of such painstaking labor.