The company is currently run by Masayuki Gato and has a small team of highly skilled workers. As a student, Gato realized the influence of Yamanaka Lacquerware on the daily lives of the people in his city and wanted to contribute to this local culture.
Gato Mikio Co. Ltd was founded by Komakichi Gato in 1908 in the Yamanaka Kaga Onsen area in Ishikawa Prefecture. Ishikawa prefecture has a 450-year long history of lacquerware product and has an ideal environment for its’ production.
Gato Mikio was originally a woodworking plant with its founder being a highly-skilled wood turner. The second generation of the Gato family started to develop lacquer skills and add it to their shop, and by the time the third generation took over they focused on designing and planning lacquerware on top of their already high-quality, fine-grain wood. Their lacquer line “Shosen” was created and named after a combination of the Japanese writing of craftsmen’s names’ ‘Akio’ and ‘Nobuo’.
Although now-a-days a lot of mass-produced, Gato Makio still works according to the traditional ways in order to preserve the artwork, craftsmanship and Japanese local culture.
They made sure their crafts are not only authentic, but also suitable for contemporary use, either in Japanese or Western households; as it can be used not only for tea, but also coffee, herbs, spices or other delicate food items.
The lacquer is beautifully applied in a way that is not too thick, so you still fully enjoy the finely carved designs that characterize the Yamanaka lacquer style. All steps, from the wood chosen to the technique used to processed and the lacquer finish, are carefully thought through in order to make smooth, practical boxes that are not just a pleasure for the eye, but equally important, protect your precious tea.
Due to the nature of the materials, the box itself is resistant against influences from temperatures, humidity and air, making it a long-lasting item.
Gato Mikio received the 2010 Good Design Awards of Small and Medium Enterprises, sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion, celebrating their excellent design.
In 2011, they were awarded the German Design Plus Award, for their combination of beautiful design and high practicability and eco concern.
The year after, they furthermore received the “award of awards”, awarded by the German Design Council – The German Federal Design Award Silver- for the most authoritative design.
They use a unique lacquer technique that follows a pattern of painting a layer of lacquer, wiping it off, drying it, and then applying another layer. This process is repeated until the lacquer coating is satisfactory.
Working according to traditional techniques, Gato Mikio has a unique advantage of authenticity, craftmanship and the combination of traditional methods and modern designs. Now that Masayuki Gato, the fourth generation, has taken over, he has decided to focus even more on unique designs, which he does in collaboration with the best people in the field, in order to create the best possible products. Especially with their tea container designs, they have gained much praise and awards, not just in, but especially outside of Japan. Combining modern designs with Yamanaka traditional skills that only a handful of craftsmen in the area still process, Gato Makio is able to deliver truly amazing artworks.
The crafting techniques involving the use of a potter’s wheel, allow for extremely fine and detailed patterns in the surface of the wood. This does not only make these crafts extremely delicate, as a simple mistake would ruin the entire design, but also elegant and one of a kind. This pattern, aligning very precise lines on the outside of the container, is called ‘Sensuji’, and is the original style of Yanmanaka Lacquerware. The craftsmen make these rills on the outside of the container by hand, based on their experience and creativity, resulting in unique, dynamic pieces with a very soft texture. As the company was originally a woodworking plant, they use the best quality wood for the basis of their lacquerware. The finest timer, including Cherry Birch and Japanese Zolkova Elm are used, and many items skillfully handcrafted out of just one single piece of wood.
They have an impeccable reputation in the area and their products are only sold in high quality shops.
Starting at: $94.52
Starting at: $94.52