A Few Days with Toshio Odate

Cross dissolve Toshio Odate Talking Japanese Tools

Screen grab (at a cross dissolve, obviously) from “Talking Japanese Tools with Toshio Odate.”

If you follow us (@pweditors) on Twitter (and/or you follow me @1snugthejoiner), you know we were in Connecticut in May to visit with and film a couple videos with Toshio Odate. When I wasn’t on camera (ugh), I was on Twitter (and Facebook and Instagram) sharing iPhone shots of Toshio’s “gallery.”

“Gallery” is a weird descriptor for what is in reality a small plot of land with an old house (I believe it was built in late 1700s or early 1800s), a large shop and art studio (and a couple of smaller outbuildings). But “gallery” seems right to me, because the grounds of the home Toshio shares with fellow woodworker and artist Laure Olender (you’ve seen her work in our pages, too) are dominated by Toshio’s large-scale sculpture work.

Most of his pieces have at one time or another been shown indoors in a “proper” gallery, but rather than warehouse them, Toshio has turned his grounds into a living gallery, where the sculpture has slowly aged from the elements and become part of the home. His work is so clearly a combination of the natural and man-made that I have trouble envisioning the art being as affective when not surrounded by trees.

Anyway…

We filmed for two days, and captured more than 12 hours of video on Toshio’s art, Japanese woodworking tools and woodworking philosophy. He has strong opinions – to which he’s more than earned the right.

In the first of two videos we edited from that footage, “Talking Japanese Tools,” Toshio and I spend time together in his shop (to get to which one passes through stunning Shoji screens) talking about Japanese woodworking tools, sharpening stones, his teaching philosophy and more. Really, though, Toshio did 99 percent of the talking – which is exactly how it should be; he has a long and storied lifetime of knowledge to share.

Below is a short clip (there’s another on the store page), of “Talking Japanese Tools with Toshio Odate.” I hope you enjoy spending time with him as much as I did.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. Humble brag: I’m sorry you didn’t get to lunch on Toshio’s soba noodle dish; like his work, it is excellent 😉