Seigyoku Kihara has published a new book, “The Joy of Traditional Japanese Arts and Crafts.” (Japanese version also available as 伝統と昭和の手芸 “Dento to Showa no Shugei.”)
Kihara is a Japanese handicraft artist who also runs Kihara’s Arts and Craft Studio in Gardena. The book is filled with her essays and many photos of her work. It is like a Japanese craft fair in a book.
Kihara is an oshie artist, but she also learned and built up various skills that she teaches at her studio. In the book, she looks back her life dedicated to handicrafts.
The topic covers classic Japanese handicrafts that are often forgotten these days. She writes about not only traditional handicrafts but also many nostalgic handicrafts that were popular in the Showa period in Japan. The episodes are uniquely hers, based on her experience in the U.S.
The how-to instructions include her specialty, the creation of collages made with a thousand (or a thousand-one) origami cranes, which is a tradition started in Hawaii by Japanese American immigrants.
Seigyoku Kihara (a.k.a. Hisae Kihara) was born in Kobe in 1933. She arrived in the U.S. in 1965 and opened Kihara’s Art and Craft Studio in Gardena in 1980. She published her first autobiography, “Yasoji no Hitorigoto” (Soliloquy on the Eighty-Year Road), in 2013.
She began planning her second book to celebrate her 88th birthday as she was born on Aug. 8 of the 8th year of Showa. She was determined to create the new book not only in Japanese but also in English with the hope of reaching Nisei and Sansei who are interested in Japanese handicrafts but cannot read Japanese.
“I want Japanese American people to read it,” she said. “For the first time, I published the Japanese version and the English version at the same time.”
“The Joy of Traditional Japanese Arts and Crafts” is out now. Kihara worried that the English version might not sell, but so far she has sold about the same number of Japanese and English versions. Some people come back to buy the English version after purchasing the Japanese version, wishing to have their English-speaking family read the book.
JoAnn Takemoto, one of Kihara’s long-time students, is a Japanese American. She enjoys the book very much.
“I really appreciate the English version,” she said.“For the first time I will be able to enjoy Mrs. Kihara’s story in written form. I always felt I was missing out a lot in not being able to read her first book.”
Kihara’s daughter and grandchildren do not read Japanese, either. “I had the unexpected side effect of shortening the distance between my dearest daughter and grandchildren through the book,” she says. “I am truly pleased by the results of the books. It took time to make the two books, especially during the pandemic, but I made it.”
The book is 81 pages in full color. The English version is $30 including tax (ISBN # 9780578999654); the Japanese version is $25 including tax (ISBN # 9784990565176). To purchase, call Kihara Handicraft Store at (310) 538-5447 or email KiharaArtStudio@gmail.com.
In Japan, the books can be purchased from Nichi-bei Shuppan Publishing.