The area around Himeji Castle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeji_Castle) was the backdrop of my upbringing – I was raised amidst a languid medley of cherry blossom trees and ivory walls. The area was not crowded when I lived there, and filled to the brim with traditional literature, clothing, tableware; 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 castleâ€™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 high school and university age I developed an affinity for hiking – a way to bring myself closer to the nature 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 passionate for 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.