Soaring Creativity of Byobu Folding Screens -1
It wasn’t long before he noticed that byobu were used not only as functional furniture or ceremonial items, but also as artistic or commemorative interior objects that make daily living more fun. The British friend gave him a photobook titled “Japanese Accents in Western Interiors,” which featured some surprising scenes for Kyoichi. For example, a kimono was hung on the wall in place of a tapestry; a Japanese charcoal brazier was used as a flower pot. Those Japanese traditional items were used in a totally different but a stylish way. The different ideas were possible because they were from foreigners, free from preconceptions. In Western society, unconventional usage had been exercised. Learning it was almost equivalent to a reverse import. After poring through this book, Kyoichi began taking on unusual fun works by applying traditional byobu to unexpected works while sustaining the essential elements of traditional byobu making.
“What’s most exciting about my work is creativity,” said Kyoichi. “Every customer brings a different request with them, and it is so rewarding to think in a creative way, and to propose and produce a completed work for the customer. This exciting process is probably the reason that motivates young people to work here.”
Kataoka Byobu Store sells ready-made products too, but bespoke orders account for a large proportion of the total sales. Custom for this kind of work is drawn to this store because there are no longer many byobu manufacturers in Japan.
In the showroom section, there are various byobus are displayed as it claims a mini museum. In the entrance area, works ranging from palm-sized ones to two-meter wide works are being crowded. Aside from displayed fantastic works at the store, Kyoichi introduced us some unique byobu works he was engaged before. Those unique works will be detailed in Part 2.
Photos and Story by Motomi Takahashi