Ichii Ittōbori: Yew Wood Carving
Discover one of the Hida region’s representative wood crafts with a demonstration of ichii ittōbori (yew woodcarving) by Washizuka Hiroshi, a woodworking craftsman and head of the Hida Takayama-based atelier Washizuka Chōkoku. As 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, Washizuka Hiroshi will carve a wooden rabbit in each demonstration.
In ichii ittōbori, chisels are used to produce wood sculptures that emphasize the grain and hue of Japanese yew. The technique originated in the densely forested Hida region of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan and the technique continues to be used today to produce netsuke and other decorative objects. Carvers, using only an assortment of large and small chisels, skilfully utilize the natural variations in shade seen in Japanese yew. The chisel marks are not removed, so the sharpness of the chisel blades has a large impact on the appearance of final piece.
These demonstrations are part of a programme of events connected with the exhibition The Carpenters’ Line: Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama.
About the Speaker
Born in 1971 in Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture, Washizuka Hiroshi moved to Takayama city upon graduating from high school, and in 1990, began to apprentice under Wani Hisayuki, owner of Wani Chōkoku. After six years of training, Washizuka began his own independent atelier, Washizuka Chōkoku, and dedicated himself to the refinement of his carving skills over the next 30 years. In 1998, he joined the Hida Ichii Ittō Carving Association, and was appointed a director in 2007. In 2010, at the age of 38, he was recognized as a ‘Traditional Craftsman’ by the Japanese government. His carvings borrow from classical motifs and encompass a wide range of expression, from hannya masks used in Noh theatre to charming portrayals of animals. His technique is especially known for drawing out the full potential of yew sapwood and wood grain. Distinctive among his carvings are his depictions of auspicious Japanese symbols, such as the Seven Gods of Fortune, the animals of the Japanese zodiac, and owls.
This event has been made possible with the support of Takayama City and Gifu Prefecture.