NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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岩谷武治 Iwatani Takeji Takeji Iwatani

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Takeji Iwatani was born in the town of Fuka-Ura, Aomori Prefecture, in 1939. He is a lacquerware craftsman using the 'tsugarunuri' technique. He is also known by the pseudonym of Gozan.

Takeji Iwatani established a tsugarunuri atelier called Gozan-Kobo in 1969. In 1975, he founded the Tsugarunuri Friendship Society. The next year, he won the chief-director's prize at the national lacquerware exhibition. In 1981, he was authorized as a traditional craftsman. At present, he is the chairman of the Tsugarunuri Traditional Craftsmen Association. In 2003 he won the Director General of Forestry Agency prize in the national lacquerware exhibition.

Tsugarunuri, or tsugaru lacquer, is believed to have originated with the Tsugaru clan in the early Edo period. This technique is also known as bakanuri. It involves the repeated process of painting and layering lacquer. It takes several months to finish just one piece.

Iwatani's work are made for private orders only. It is interesting to see that he has persistence with his work. When having two orders, he makes three pieces, one for each order and one for himself to make sure that the sold pieces are truly perfect.
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