However, this does not impact our recommendations. Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick I count myself among the luckier people in the world for having had the chance to hang out with Toshio Odate and Laure Olender for a couple of days in Connecticut. Photo by Ric Deliantoni So, we videographers Ric Deliantoni, David Thiel and I spent some time looking at the work and worrying that someone was going to hurt those beams were heavy! But most of my time there was spent listening to Toshio. Instead, I asked a question or three, then just listened. Also, a little bit about performing in Greenwich Village clubs — that was a surprise…one of many.

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We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Along the way he became a skilled wood craftsman trained in the old ways, then a student, artist and thinker participating fully in the art movements of the late 20th century, and finally, a teacher.

And in a way, Odate has traveled full circle because he came to understand in the middle of his long life that he has a unique responsibility to represent Japanese craft traditions to Westerners. To demonstrate and teach; to write books and magazine articles; to be photographed working; to explain not only what he is doing, but why and most important, why it matters.

An epochal passage might take a human culture several centuries of war and revolution, whereas this infinitely resilient man has done it in a single lifetime.

Today, Odate seems comfortably at ease in each of his roles, even as he now lives much as he began: a modest shokunin who starts the day by making tea and rice on a wood-burning stove, looking out at his garden. To appreciate Odate, one must start with the Japanese craftsman, the shokunin. Every profession has social obligations and responsibilities.


Toshio Odate: Woodworking Legend



Toshio Odate


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