The trees I use have grown for many hundreds of years. I cannot forget this. When I cut them down into smaller pieces and turn them into their final shapes, I try to produce as little wastage as possible. When I turn the wood, I have no fixed image of the shape of the bowl I want to create. I just try to turn it in a way that does not waste the wood, finding a shape that feels pleasant and natural to my hands.
was born in the turmoil of the Pacific war in Korea in 1944. His father was a wooden sandals maker. After finishing junior high in 1960, Ninjo lived a restless life, moving from one place to another and doing all sorts of jobs, including working as a metal filer, an assistant at a publishing firm, a salesman, and often as a seasonal harvester.
In 1974, he began an apprenticeship in the wood turning workshop of Konishi Hisao in Shogawa (Toyama Prefecture). After finishing the apprenticeship, he worked in a lacquer workshop from 1978 to 1980 in Akita (Akita Prefecture), where he learned the basic skills of lacquering.
In 1980 he started his own workshop in Kurashiki. In 1988 he moved to the countryside and set up his workshop in a village near Ibara (Okayama Prefecture).
For me, wood and urushi-lacquer are the kindest, most gentle, and most gracious materials for the bowls and dishes we use for our meals. When I sit at the turning wheel, I do not think so much about the shape you will see with your eyes. I am more concerned about what you will feel in your heart when you touch the bowl.
I am more interested in the wood than in the urushi-lacquer. I use the urushi as a kind of coating for the wood. It is a very suitable coating, as the urushi itself is taken from a tree. The coating should be thick enough to protect the wood, and at the same time thin enough to show the grain of the wood and allow the warmth of the wood to come through. If the wood disappears under a thick urushi coating, I do not feel comfortable.