Friday, October 21, 2016

Time in the presence of a Japanese Master Metalworker

A very engrossed student and patient Master Metalworker
Whilst in Tatebayashi, as part of the SCC-Tatebayashi Sister Cities art-culture exchange, I was given the opportunity to spend time with Japanese Master Metalworker Hariu Kiyoshi.

I first met Hariu-san at a Tatebayashi citizens' festival some six or so years ago. I was able to visit him in his workshop a few years ago when Fiona and I returned as part of the SC art-culture exchange group. When he knew we were again in town for the citizens' festival etc Hariu-san invited me to his workshop where he said he would teach me the Japanese technique of ibushi.

On our arrival we spent some time drinking tea, discussing metalwork techniques and studying some pieces and tools.

Discussing techniques - particularly patinas and colouring
Hariu-san and an older apprentice Kezuka-san
Many many stakes for different forms
Discussing which stake would be used on which section of the vessel
Discussing which hammer would be used at which stage of the forming of the vessel- the hand of Mizuho (aka Cathy) our fantastic interpreter
I was then given a lesson in ibushi - a traditional Japanese technique of adding patina and a tarnish resistant coating to metal using a concentrated smoking process. It was such an honour that a very esteemed master metal worker would personally teach me this process.

Small intense charcoal cooking fire with smoke cones in the background
Intense smoke after a smoking tray and pine needles (leaves) were added 
Hariu-san demonstrates the process with two smoke cones in place
The student has a go
The metal - coloured and sealed by heat and resin
Intent record keepers
After a successful lesson we enjoyed tea and sweets and an exchange of gifts including presenting Hariu-san with the silver stemless sake vessel from me and a print from Fiona on peace for Hariu-san's wife.

Hariu-san checks out the stemless sake vessel
We share a laugh about not being able to put the vessel down and spilling the sake
There were the formal photos to mark the visit.

Fiona, Barry, Osumi-san, Hariu-san and Kezuka-san

 Hariu-san said as his 'apprentice' I could return and he would teach me other traditional Japanese techniques - though he said I would need to spend a much longer time with him next time.

And Cathy made the lesson and the visit possible and rich through her interpreting.


  1. What an honor and wonderful experience, Barry! Thanks for sharing the photos. All the best, Patti

  2. Wonderful. Are smoke cones going to be made soon? Can you get the right charcoal? On another subject we will be on the Gold Coast on Sunday for a week to go to a funeral, but don't think any time to get your way. Which is very sad as I would have loved to have caught up.

  3. What a wonderful opportunity and rewarding experience. Many thanks for sharing it. Fascinating technique and tools. That spectacular stake collection - bring the smelling salts-I just swooned! ;)

  4. Shared on my timeline on Facebook, with comment. Wonderful experience!!

  5. How wonderful! What a good experience for you. I hope you really are able to go and spend more time with him.
    Sandy in the UK

  6. Hi P (aka MB), P, AA, R and S - thanks for visiting the blog and leaving a comment. P - certainly was an honour. P - smoke cones at some time in the future. Sad that you will be close but not able to visit; and sad it is to attend to a funeral. AA - one does not get these opportunities often - I agree I had to keep lifting my jaw as I went around the workshop - just shows what 60-70 years of dedicated work adds up to. R - thanks for sharing. S - Thanks - and yes we hope to return. All - go well. B

  7. Glad you were able to have such an amazing experience B!

  8. What an brilliant experience, Barry & Fiona! Great photos, a wonderful story.


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.