I was born and raised in California by first generation Japanese parents. Growing up in a Japanese-speaking household, my parents always stressed the importance of keeping in touch with my roots and striving to learn more about Japanese traditions.
As a child, I spent every summer in the Kansai region of Japan, where all of my extended family lives. I was very fortunate to attend Japanese language school and participate in courses such as shodo/shuji (Japanese calligraphy) and tea ceremony (sado or chado) to broaden my knowledge of Japanese culture.
When I entered university as a Fine Arts major, I was exposed to various printmaking methods and bookbinding techniques but most importantly, I learned about the paper making process and the traditional art of Chiyogami.
Chiyogami was first developed in the Edo period (approximately 1603-1868). The gorgeous patterns are usually based on kimono patterns and often geometric in nature or very colourful and festive. The repeat patterns are stenciled by hand and silkscreened onto paper. I was fascinated by this process and even had a chance to visit a couple of family-run paper making factories in Kyoto during my early twenties. I was able to purchase many designs from Mr. Maruyama and bought out stock he had from the 60s and 70s of designs which are no longer being produced.
After spending several years in Germany, learning the German language and working for various music and publishing companies, I realised that sitting in an office all day in front of a computer was just not for me. I felt the need to create something by hand and to reconnect with my heritage and find a way to creatively bring together the rich cultures I have become acquainted with over the years. With printmaking and bookbinding skills under my belt, I decided to collect some ideas using materials from countries that have had a great influence on my life and to produce a meaningful object out of them. Not only does Kitaken use Chiyogami in many designs but all the products can be personalised. Personalised photo albums, concertinas, wedding invitations and more!
This is pretty much how Kitaken was born. Thank you for visiting!