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Brush Handle / Kanpo Mantani|

Kanpo Mantani, Hikkan Artist
萬谷歓峰 筆管師 奈良県桜井市

Brush Handle / Kanpo Mantani

Born into a hikkan-shi (calligraphy brush handle maker) family, Mr. Kanpo Mantani had no choice but start making fude (Japanese writing brushes) as soon as he was old enough to. Fude-making was always a part of his life so by age 30 he had already become a skilled and experienced artisan.

At this time though, deep down he had begun to question the repetitive nature of his family’s business. Growing alongside this doubt was also his passion for designing original artwork. When he could no longer ignore this burgeoning passion, he rebelled and left home.

Leaving behind all he knew and armed only with his skills and passion, Mr. Mantani, accompanied by his wife, set out to find his own path. They traveled to Tokyo and there they approached Kyukyodo, one of the best stationery stores in Japan, and asked them to sell his fude. They recommended he try their Kyoto branch which then began selling his top-class fude.It was their very first success in sales.

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  • "Hyoutan" (gourd) Portable Calligraphy Box / 懐中硯箱「瓢箪」 / L 15cm x W 7cm, writing brush, inkwell, and inkstick inside Made of keyaki (Japanese zelkova)

  • Shosoin Treasure Brush (Copy) / 正倉院宝物筆写し / L10cm x Φ0.9cm The cap is made of mottled bamboo with rim made of deer antler wound with gold.

  • Shosoin Treasure Brush (Copy) / 正倉院宝物筆写し / The handle is made of mottled bamboo with gold rim cover and carved deer antler decoration.

  • One of the "Hyakumanto-One Million Pagodas" (Copy) / 「百萬塔」写し / H 10cm, Φ8cm Black persimmon wood

To put it simply, Mr. Mantani enjoys making something. Along with a variety of fude, he makes yatate (portable brush-and-ink case), suzuribako (ink stone case), and kougou (incense container). Mr. Mantani’s designs are strikingly original and utilize the characteristics of the wood. His work is often copied by others, but this doesn’t bother the nonchalant Mr. Mantani at all as he would rather look forward than back.

He says, “There is never enough time and my head is constantly overflowing with new ideas.” This artisan never ceases to create, and he often gets inspired by the wood he discovers in the countryside, at times even stopping suddenly to pick up what he sees as “wooden gems” lying on the roadside.
New–unusual–extraordinary, and truly one of a kind. This describes the artwork Mr. Mantani creates.

Photography by Masahiro Yanagawa