Kyohei originally hails from Japan but moved to New Zealand with his family at just three months old. His father is a bone carver and as a young child, Kyohei would study the hand-work of his father and make his own pieces to sell at local markets. With a keen eye for detail, Kyohei particularly enjoys the finishing process of each piece. He is always thinking about what needs to be worked on and what could make the piece better.
Kyohei's connection to the world of jade carving began through an introduction to Ric Moor. His father, a renowned bone carver, took him to visit Ric's studio in Greymouth on a family road trip through the South Island. Here, Kyohei took the opportunity to play around in Ric's workshop and discover his interest in the craft. Working under the tutorship of Ric, Kyohei is developing into one of the country's finest emerging carvers. He sees greenstone as a New Zealand icon and hopes to one day start introducing his own heritage into his intricate designs.
My father has been carving bone for over 20-years, and in 2015 he was invited to a symposium where a large group of artists got together at Ric Moor's studio in Greymouth to learn and create art. He stayed connected with Ric and a few years later on our way back from a family road trip to Queenstown my father introduced us. Ric is such an open guy and invited me straight down to have a play in his studio. I took him up on the opportunity and made around 10 small carvings within the 4-hours I was working - it was great fun, and Ric noted that I was a quick learner! Before we left Greymouth Ric told me that if I ever wanted to get into carving, I was welcome to stay at his place and learn from him. So when my family and I returned to Nelson, I took a few months to consider his offer and decide if this was a path that I wanted to follow - which it was! I guess that's how my carving journey began and since then I've been working under the tutorship of Ric.
My first ever carving experience was when I was around 10-years old with my dad. I would always see what he was making, and he would often find pieces of bone that he was happy for me to practice carving on. I used to make all kinds of simple designs, but my first ever carving was a teardrop form crafted from cow bone.
I've always had a good eye for detail, and I really enjoy the finishing process. So whenever I see a pendant, I'm always thinking about what is needed to be worked on and what could make the piece better. With exceptional pieces, it's all in the finer details and I find it very satisfying to have a design in mind and bring it to life in the way you envision. You start off with the raw material, you carve it, and then you clean it up. I really enjoy the cleanup and perfecting the finer details.
I get a lot of my inspiration from nature as it’s hard not to be moved by the beauty of New Zealand. Living next to the beach, I’ll often go for walks and be drawn to the simple shapes of shells or leaves and then I’ll think about how I could carve these in jade. Inspiration for me also comes from watching other artists that come to Ric’s studio. Seeing their unique styles and how they put their own spin on things is definitely inspiring and thought-provoking.
I would love to eventually be able to incorporate some of my Japanese heritage into my designs. I was born in Japan, and my family moved to NZ when I was just three months old. My dad carves netsuke sculptures, and I would like to attempt this style of carving with jade and bone, all while incorporating what I’ve learned from Ric and my own knowledge. I'm hoping to soon set up my own studio and then I'll be able to spend hours working on a single piece and developing my own original ideas.