The area around Himeji Castle was the backdrop of my Japanese upbringing – I was raised amidst a languid medley of cherry blossom trees and ivory walls. The area was not crowded when I was there, but filled to the brim with traditional literature, clothing, cutlery; all as rich in beauty and artistry as they were in age.
Even now I can recall the colour and pattern on the kimonos, the subtle elegance of the lacquerware. Once every year the community gathered to clean the castle’s surrounding moat. Instead of sending me to school on those days, my parents would allow me to join and to catch koi fish as a special annual treat.
In my primary school years I developed a fascination for watercolour painting. I threw my heart into every single aspect of it, dedicating hours of my young life to ensuring that the landscapes around me were not only translated – but absorbed and spread out, from their very essence, onto paper.
My love for absorbing and roving the outside world ripened as I grew older, and by the time I had reached a high school and university age I developed an affinity for hiking – a way to bring myself closer to the outside world that had captured my heart so sweepingly. It was in this age and through this heritage that I first came to understand the magnificence of the earth, and by extension mankind.
However the post-war society that I had been born into had heartbreakingly begun to throw traditional Japanese art customs into the past. Everywhere around me I saw concrete laid onto the ground – consumerism was reaching an all-time high, quality came to be replaced by quantity. The Himeji Castle-like elegance that I had grown to recognise as elements of old Japan began to fade into a sierra of cheap, imported wood and plastic – particularly in the lacquerware industry.
With my heart still set on the outside world, I discovered the craft of lacquerware – the painstakingly long process of creating lacquer that dates back to the Japanese Jomon period, over 9,000 years ago.
My love for it blossomed, as it was a culmination of the two things I held the most passion for – nature and my desire to preserve its beauty.
I have been creating lacquerware for over 40 years now, and run my business based on the thought that a tree which has lived a hundred years can live another hundred through the hands of mankind.
Now I would love nothing more than to return to my beginnings and study painting once again, just as I did as a wide-eyes primary school girl.