Four Mythological Creatures Lid Lifters

Susumu Yotsukawa

These lifters are used to pick up the lid of an incense burner. They are adorned with the four mythological creatures: Azure Dragon, Vermilion Bird, White Tiger and Black Tortoise, believed to be auspicious, ward off evil spirits and strike a balance between Yin and Yang. In Chinese astrology, these creatures also represent the four cardinal points ー North, East, South and West.

STORY OF THE TRADITIONAL CRAFT

The Yotsukawa brothers are the third-generation successors of the family business. Susumu Yotsukawa is the brand producer of KISEN while his elder brother Motomasa Yotsukawa is the president of KISENDO.

KISENDO was founded by the grandfather of Susumu Yotsukawa in 1946 during wartime. At that time, metals had to be submitted for wartime needs. People collected metal materials from discarded combat vehicles and broken aircrafts to make the most needed daily utensils ー pots, which prompted his grandfather to start his casting business. 

Likewise, the father of Susumu was also a casting master. When his father was in charge of the firm, the current showroom was a copper casting factory. In the 1970s and 1980s, the business shifted its focus to design and began collaborating with various copper casting craftsmen in Takaoka to produce the copperware. Together, the designers and craftsmen made timeless homeware that meet the needs of modern families. 

Challenges evolve with the times. For Susumu Yotsukawa, his challenge is to design delicate craftwork as gifts. He founded KISEN with the refined title of his family business in 2014, since then he has been creating a new collection every year for the brand. Discovering that wooden cups could bring out the flavor of sake, the design team developed a woodware line five years ago.

MAKING PROCESS

The majority of KISENDO and KISEN’s works utilize the casting techniques of Takaoka Copperware, one of the traditional crafts in Japan. Casting makes use of the fact that metal melts at high temperatures. Molten metal is poured into molds and allowed to cool and harden.

Takaoka Copperware is a type of copperware produced in the area around the city of Takaoka in Toyama prefecture. The various products range from small items such as indoor ornaments and vases to larger items such as temple bells and copper statues.

The notable features of Takaoka Copperware are the skillful hands-on casting techniques of the artisans and the polishing, metal carving and inlaying production techniques. These techniques have been combined and developed to create a wealth of styles. People are fascinated when they see the strength, delicacy, and flexibility of Takaoka Copperware, which is made so that it takes on a profound expression over time and can be enjoyed as it changes throughout the years.

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