Eiji Hagiwara crafting at his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, Japan.

Feature on Japanese Woodworker Eiji Hagiwara

About Eiji Hagiwara

Born in Tokyo, Eiji Hagiwara now works out of his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.

Although he produces small pieces of furniture at his studio, he also has a great eye for crafting tableware, such as chopsticks, spoons, dishes, and bud vases. These are all made from hardwoods, such as walnut, teak, persimmon, cherry, and chestnut.

His goal is to utilise the nature of the tree to the best of his ability, following the grain of the wood and making sure they fit organically in the users hands.

Photography: Sukeyasu Yamaguchi

Introduction

I’m a great believer in showing the difference between each maker in the shop. Not only how they go about making their work, but also aesthetically and the different characteristics that they carry across from object to object. One who has a particularly strong theme running throughout his collection is Japanese woodworker Eiji Hagiwara.

Eiji has a fairly rustic style, which is defined by the thickness of the wood and original graining in which he likes to incorporate in to the finished pieces. This could be texture in the wood, or even beautiful and natural contrasting colours. Although rustic, I personally think he has found the perfect balance between function and form.

It’s no surprise then that he’s inspired by the simple work of the Shakers, in which he encountered whilst travelling in the United States. The Shakers produced furniture and objects from wood that were purely functional in form and proportion. Thanks partly to design, and their inherent lack of ornamentation, with training and skill the minimalist designs were fast and easy to produce. So, this shaker design philosophy, “to be necessary and useful”, is very fitting in regards to Eiji’s work.

Here is a great selection of imagery from inside his studio in Sayama. Here he is making a selection of chopsticks by hand, these photos follow the process from start to finish. Works by Eiji Hagiwara can be found on our shop. Enjoy.

A glimpse inside the main workshop of Japanese Woodworker Eiji Hagiwara.
A glimpse inside the main workshop of Japanese Woodworker Eiji Hagiwara.
Wood that's ready to be cut and used to make furniture and wooden objects.The wood that he uses is mainly teak and cherry, but he also crafts with oak and walnut.
A selection of wood that is kiln dried and then cut in to boards, after a period of waiting these will be used to craft a selection of products.
Eiji uses a special planing machine to cut the blanks for the chopsticks.
A selection of wooden blanks that are hand cut by Eiji Hagiwara. They are used to sculpt the chopsticks of different sizes.
A selection of wooden blanks that are hand cut by Eiji Hagiwara. They are used to sculpt the chopsticks of different sizes.
Wood blanks which are ready to be crafted.
The chopstick blank is soaked in water, making them easier to cut by hand with a plane and knife.
The chopstick blanks are soaked in water, making them easier to cut by hand with a plane and knife.
Up-close shot of Eiji planing the wooden chopstick in to shape.
Pushing upwards, he uses the sharpened blade to shave off thin sheets of wood.Working slowly and meticulously to achieve a form that fits in the hand nicely.
He meticulously planes each one by hand, making sure they are exactly the right shape to fit in the users hands.
He pays particular attention to all the little
Chopstick blanks which are ready to sculpted by hand. Eiji adds horizontal lines to add grip to the chopsticks, they also give the chopsticks character.
Eiji Hagiwara trimming the chopsticks by hand at his studio in Japan.
Eiji trimming the chopsticks at his studio. He pays particular attention to where the chopsticks narrow in at the tip.
Eiji trimming the chopsticks at his studio. He pays particular attention to where the chopsticks narrow in at the tip.
She then cuts the vessel off of the wheel, the bottom will be trimmed at a later stage.
A selection of chopsticks waiting to be treated. Teak and Pine are available to purchase in the shop
Treating the chopsticks with oil, handmade by Eiji Hagawara.The chopsticks are then treated with an urushi oil to protect the wood from water and food.
The chopsticks are then treated with an urushi oil to protect the wood from water and food.
A special rack used to hold the drying chopsticks, each are worked on separately.
Some of the finished chopsticks that can be found in the shop. Also some metal blanks that Eiji uses to shape some of his other tableware.Metal blanks that Eiji uses to shape some of his other tableware.
Some of the finished chopsticks that can be found in the shop. Also some metal blanks that Eiji uses to shape some of his other tableware.
A selection of tableware that's made by Eiji Hagiwara at his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.
A selection of tableware that’s made by Eiji Hagiwara at his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.
A selection of tableware that's made by Eiji Hagiwara at his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.
Chopstick Rests by Eiji Hagiwara, available to purchase in our shop.
A selection of tableware that's made by Eiji Hagiwara at his studio in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.
A selection of tableware that’s made by Eiji Hagiwara at his studio in Sayama.
Walnut Butter Box, available to purchase at OEN Shop.
Walnut Butter Box, available to purchase at OEN Shop.
A selection of chopstick boxes made from cherry and walnut. We stock the Walnut Chopstick Box at OEN Shop.
A selection of chopstick boxes made from cherry and walnut.