In the pursuit of perfect craft: an artisan's lifework | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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In the pursuit of perfect craft: an artisan's lifework

Over decades of inspired workmanship, Hiroshima Kazuo has fashioned baskets that bespeak the everyday life of an isolated rural Japan

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For more than 60 years, Hiroshima Kazuo, from southern Japan's Hinokage region, has handcrafted baskets; his creations, now sought out avidly by collectors, are prized for their utility and beauty.

Hiroshima established himself as a basketmaker in 1932 when he was 17 years old. He then began traveling from farm to farm, village to village, handcrafting new baskets and repairing old ones. Nearly every task--storing cooked rice, transporting shitake mushrooms, trapping eels from a stream--required a specific bamboo container or implement. In the late 1980s he completed a major commission, producing a representative range of his baskets.

With the passage of time, his baskets have transcended even their identity as exquisite pieces of folk art. As the children of Hinokage's farms gravitate toward the city, the baskets have become artifacts reflecting the rhythms of a hard but tranquil lot.

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