Q So who is Kuniko Kanawa ?
Kuniko Kanawa is Japanese, a professionally trained authentic Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan as well as a certified Kimono consultant of All Japan Kimono Consultant Association.
My works can be seen at:
Q Where in the world are you based?
I was born and raised in Japan and currently live in the Unites States.
I work in both countries, but mainly in the United States.
Q When did you decide to become a maker?
I do not remember if there was a particular moment that I decided to become a maker. I would say it just happened like it was my destiny, directed by my ancestors, which I am very honoured to live for rest of my life.
As I was studying Kimono, I became more and more into pursuing our traditional culture and felt the strong need to preserve it by discovering that it is rapidly disappearing due to us becoming too westernized. Our traditional culture is the core of our soul. I just could not let us loose it, for our ancestors and future generations. Somebody must carry.
By the time I realized, I end up obtaining a certification of Kimono consultant and became a professionally trained Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan. At the same time, I studied Bingata, and Japanese classical dance. Again, I must have directed to this life by our ancestors.
Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?
Definitely being Japanese made me choose Kimono (silk, cotton, rayon), Chiyogami and traditional natural dye to work on.
For dichroic glass, I fell in love with the finished look after melting it in a kiln. Fused glass is amazingly beautiful. So I thought it will be perfect for Obi-dome (Obi belt holder).
Q What other materials would you like to work in?
If I am to work on any new materials, I would like to work on glass to make Japanese glass beads.
Q Where do you get your inspiration from?
I certainly get inspiration from beautiful Mother Nature. Living with enriched seasons, such as Spring, Tsuyu (transitional rainy season between Spring and Summer), Summer, Autumn, and Winter definitely inspires me.
I also get inspiration from other traditional Japanese cultures and other types of Japanese artisans who strive themselves for “Kami – waza” (神業：an act of Deities), meaning the feat beyond human power.
Q What motivates you?
Respecting how our ancestors strived to carry traditional Japanese handicraft motivates me.
Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?
I have a fabulous studio at my new home, surrounded by protected forest by the state.
Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?
Crafts in the 21st Century means, “No roots, no future”
This is the time for Artisans to once again look back the history and respect traditions, to be truly creative. No profound understandings of roots, no authentic art.
Q How do you sell and promote your work?
I mainly sell through my online shop.
I sometimes attend craft shows.
Some resellers such as museums sell my work.
For promotion, I deal with press, YouTube, Facebook, twitter and MySpace and so on.
Q What does your typical working day look like?
Wake up in the morning.
Perform simplified “Misogi” (禊: a purification ceremony (performed with water); ablutions) before visiting Shinto shrine
Pray for Shinto shrine, to appreciate nature, our ancestors, and our traditional culture.
Take my Kishu dog (the oldest/ancient breed in Japan) for a walk in woods
Take care of some housework
Work in my studio
- check e-mails from my customers or any purchase
- prepare shipments.
- draw new designs.
- make new items or custom orders.
- take pictures of pieces
- post new items in my web shop.
- Edit my shop or official website if necessary
Q What is your working style?
1. Morning person, but can be a night person as well
2. very organized
3. mixture of traditional and contemporary
Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...
1. Be always respectful to authenticity and ancestors who carried that art with all of their lives
2. Be modest
3. Be free
Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?
Hiroshige Utagawa (Ukiyo-e artist)
Hiroshi Matsuda (Kanazawa Japanese Umbrella artisan)
Q likes and dislikes?
1. Living with Nature
2. Visiting world heritage
2. Smokers who lack the manners
3. Terrible customer service
Q What do you do to relax?
Hiking in Mother Nature
Taking a bath, ideally Hot Spring
Chilling by a Japanese pond at home