An exquisite window into Japan‘s heritage, Kyoto‘s gardens, shrines and temples draw in millions of visitors each year. For our CH Japan travel experience (as well as our CH Omakase gift box), Kyoto played an important role for a different reason: its GO ON collective. Young makers, representing the next generation in their family’s traditional craft, bound together to form GO ON. This collective aims to showcase traditional craft businesses in and near Kyoto and how they are evolving to both honor tradition and to create new opportunities. Together they represent a force for Japanese craft and are sharing it with a global audience.
With this intention, they acknowledge that for local craft to survive anywhere it must find new markets everywhere. Not only did we bring our CH Japan guests to explore the following producers, we also developed limited edition products with many of them—to further their goal of international awareness.
Toru Tsuji is a second-generation wire net weaver who works with his father, Master Kenichi Tsuji. Their company, Kanaami Tsugi, produces tofu servers, tea strainers and other kitchen utensils. Different techniques—like kiku-dashi and kikko-ami—yield exquisite natural patterns, the former resembling chrysanthemum and the latter a tortoise shell. We asked Toru Tsuji to produce one of his iconic tea utensils in a first-ever collaboration with another GO ON member, Nakagawa Mokkouegi (who honed its beautiful wooden handle) in a blending of historic talents.
For more than 400 years, the family-run ceramics company Asahiyaki has produced cups, plates and bowls from clay that they’ve cured between 50 to 100 years. Matsubayashi Housai, the family’s 17th-generation potter, currently leads their production—building homewares from clay his grandfather collected from a nearby mountain. To visit was an exercise in beauty, patience and perfection. They only produce 2,000 or so pieces per year. With them, we developed a set that contains four of the company’s classic cups and a matcha bowl in exclusive, experimental colorways.
From their illustrious history to their brand new Kyoto flagship, Hosoo continues to reimagine the use of traditional textiles, while incorporating techniques for the future. Superior quality defines the brand. Founded in 1688, the company became known for traditional Japanese three-dimensional weaving techniques. Today, their partnerships with the likes of Peter Marino Architect and Thom Browne—spearheaded by Masataka Hosoo, the brand director of HOSOO and former MIT Director’s Fellow—represent movements that will keep them relevant for centuries more.
Takahiro Yagi is the third generation to lead his family’s unique business, Kaikado. They are known for their handmade tea canisters, which create a vacuum seal when they gently close—a design they perfected. When holding the required tools and learning of their meticulous production, we understood the precision that goes into such a natural seal. We commissioned Kaikado to create a finish using our original CH Omakase pattern. This marks the first time they were able to precisely match a hand-engraved pattern and then cover it in lacquer, which adopts patina over time and with use.
Established in 1898, Kohchosai Kosuga taps into bamboo’s unending potential and crafts more than 1,000 different items from the material. Many traditional techniques are employed to make the products, but the brand is thoughtful in its adoption of modern methods, as well. All of their pieces are manufactured within their own studios, and they opened their first flagship in Kyoto in 2011, with the intention of bringing the dynamic beauty of bamboo closer to their customers.
Images by Josh Rubin