Tsuge Ikebana

Sweeping floors and polishing Mr Umibata’s ivory cigarette holders from six in the morning to ten at night, apart from short breaks for meals, was hard work for a recently orphaned thirteen-year-old.  Yet, Kyoichiro Tsuge was not one to be disheartened, and his determination drew on an inner strength. It is likely that he inherited his passion for excellently crafted objects, love of fine things and pleasure in his craft from his ancestors, as his father Tomosaburo had come from a family of swordsmiths with Samurai status in Japanese society, and his mother, Kei, descended from Kanewaka, the famous sword forger. After Kyoichiro’s parents death, his uncle who ran a cigarette shop recommended him to go to Tokyo, and Kyoichiro entered apprenticeship with Mr. Umibata, a maker of ivory cigarette holders, learning day after day, year after year, until he became a highly skilled craftsman.  At the age of twenty-six, in 1936, he was ready to take on two important challenges: getting married to Tamae, and starting his own business making cigarette holders. This was the beginning of what is today the most important Japanese pipe-making company...read more