WATANABE Shochikusai II
When his parents died of tuberculosis, Watanabe went to live with an uncle
who often visited Beppu and brought back bamboo flower baskets. In 1941,
Watanabe graduated from high school and was sent to Beppu to learn bamboo
crafts under Kadota Niko. There, he met Watanabe Shochikusai I, who was
famous for his twill plaited boxes, and became his apprentice. After the
war, Watanabe worked with Watanabe I, was adopted into the family, and
succeeded the artist's name.
In 1980, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry recognized him as a
Traditional Craft Arts Skill Holder and, the next year, the Imperial family
purchased his work. His pieces, which continue the signature twill plaiting
of his mentor, are part of collections at the Beppu City Museum of Art,
Oita Prefecture Art Hall, and Beppu City Traditional Bamboo Craft Art Museum.
"Quite honestly, I consider myself an artisan," he says. "I only work in
twill plaiting, but within this limitation I always push myself to a new
innovation. Beauty to me is not static, it is dynamic. Thinking of
patterns, color coordination, and proportions all the time keeps my mind
young and flexible. I am happy when I succeed in a new innovation, but I am
happier if people like the work and value it."
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