BY HIROMI KIRIYAMA
Our first feature story
introduces handmade bamboo baskets by a young craftsman named Hiromi
Kiriyama. He makes each basket by himself from start to finish-from
choosing his bamboo in the forest to the last finishing touch. The
baskets are made out of fresh, young, green madake bamboo,
whose beauty will continue to be enhanced through time and use,
as the luster deepens to a dark caramel color as you use them.
surrounded by bamboo forests and rice fields
|Madake bamboo grows
straight up toward the sky
|Cutting a big bamboo
at its bottom. The best cutting time is from late fall to early
baskets with cookies drawn by Sora
Basketry of Hiromi Kiriyama
The beauty of Hiromi
Kiriyama' basketry is born from the functional form of the basket.
Things that are made ignoring utility aspectoften do not posses
the same kind of beauty...it is a beauty that transcends individuality.
The craftsman forgets about himself and lets his work speak for
itself. - Yanagi Soetsu, The Unknown Craftsman centuries ago, the
fishermen and farmers of Japan devised the unique shapes of the
bamboo baskets out of a material they had in abundancemadake
bambooto perform the tasks of everyday life. Hiromi Kiriyama
believes in the importance of respecting not only the unique character
of the material he uses, but also the beauty of the traditional
shapes of these working baskets. Hiromi is determined to carry on
the craft of weaving functional shapesfish baskets, rice baskets,
and sievesand to show us that there is still an important
place for them in our modern daily lives.
Craftsmans Life: Hiromi Kiriyama
Although the craft of
weaving baskets was once handed down from generation to generation
in Japan, there are very few craftsmen left who carry on the weaving
of the traditional baskets of Kyushu. Hiromi Kiriyama was not born
into a traditional basket weavers household, though his home
and workshop now sit on a gently sloping hillside surrounding by
rice fields in Oita prefecture on the Island of Kyushu. He was born
in the west part of Nara City, near Horyuji Temple which is the
oldest wooden building in the world, and his life seemed destined
to end up behind a desk, until he saw his first hand-woven basket
at an exhibition. Struck by its quiet beauty, his urge to weave
baskets with his own hands grew from there. In 1990, he left his
career behind to pursue a life in basket making and revive this
disappearing craft. Kiriyama makes each basket from start to finish---cutting
down the towering bamboo in the forest with his own hands, carrying
the long, heavy poles back to his work place, and splitting and
stripping the bamboo piece by piece into thin ribbons for weaving.
This largely self-taught craftsman has been awarded the Medal of
Excellence at the Japan Folk Crafts Exhibition, and the Japan Folk
Crafts Association Prize at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum Exhibition.
His work has been praised in Japan for the exquisite shapes he is
able to achieve and for refinement of his techniques. Everyday,
he and his wife Yoshiko, his seven-year-old son, Sora (meaning sky),
and four-year-old daughter, Oto (meaning sound of water)
enjoy feasts from the fieldrice and fresh vegetables which
they grow themselves. His bamboo basket creations seem to reflect
the healthy, carefree spirit of his lifestyle, blessed with abundant
gifts from nature. Having one of his baskets nearby fills the heart
with a little bit of the happiness of their simple country life.
May they bring inspiration to your daily life.