Uenomura’s first and most renowned woodworker, Masataka Imai creates wooden plates and bowls entirely by his own hand. From choosing and preparing the wood down to polishing the finished product, he is one of few craftsman left in Japan who is devoted to personally carrying out every step of the process. Restaurants all over Japan order his wares, insisting that there is no one else in the country who can deliver wooden tableware quite like him. Imai even makes his own tools to ensure his work turns out just so.
Surprisingly, Imai does not come from a long line of woodworkers. He got his start with the lathe in the 1970s, when he was working as a civil servant in Uenomura. As part of an effort to start a woodworking industry in the village, the local government sent him on an apprenticeship to learn from the master woodturners and lacquerware artists in another prefecture. He returned with skills he used to start up his own woodshop, and that he would pass on to other budding artisans.
“Over the 40 years I’ve been working, I’ve never created a piece that I was truly satisfied with. Every day I try to make each piece just a little bit better.”
住所 : 640 Katsuyama, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma
Web Site : https://www.imai-kougei.site/ (Japanese only)