Profile of YOKO TANAKA

President, Craft Shop Yuzuriha
Born in 1955 in the town of Takko, Aomori Prefecture. Founded Craft Shop Yuzuriha next to Lake Towada, Aomori Prefecture, in 1989 to introduce the handicrafts of the Tohoku region. The highly popular shop, now in its twenty-second year, showcases the kind of carefully selected items that can only be found there, reflecting both the founder’s deep love for Tohoku and her modern sensibilities. Has worked with artisans to come up new ideas about how handicrafts can be more fully incorporated into the modern lifestyle while also communicating to visitors the story behind the creation of each exhibited item.Has organized exhibitions and conducted talk shows in cities around the country each month with the aim of familiarizing people in not only Towada but also Tokyo and cities throughout Japan with the warmth and richness of handicrafts. Often appears in newspaper and magazine articles describing her attempts to nurture the next generation of artisans and work as a producer of new works. Author of Yuzuriha no uta (Yuzuriha Poems), a collection of essays in Japanese about meetings with artisans, published byShufu to Seikatsusha in 2007.

1989 Opens Craft Shop Yuzuriha next to Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture to introduce the handicrafts of northern Tohoku (Aomori, Akita, and Iwate Prefectures).

1994 Begins introducing the crafts of the three other prefectures (Yamagata, Miyagi,and Fukushima) in the Tohoku region.

1997 Organizes the first special exhibition in Tokyo at Gesshinkyo restaurant (serving vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) in Harajuku.

2001 Organizes the First Yuzuriha Tokyo Exhibition at the Tsuta Salon gallery (held every year since).

2002 “Tohoku’s Handicrafts Exhibition” at Living Design Center Ozone (Tokyo).
2003 Is featured in an article in the Nikkei Marketing Journal.Is featured in an article about the handicrafts of northern Tohoku in Misesu magazine (published by Bunka Publishing Bureau).

2004 “Life Tools of Japan Exhibition” at the Tokyo Gas Showroom (Yokohama).

2005 Is introduced on Bijinesu Miraijin, an NHK Educational TV documentary program about future business leaders (Adapting the Wisdom of the Past for the Modern Era).Serves as coordinator at the 97th Japan Initiative Forum on “Reviving Japan through Low-Tech Ventures.”Writes an eight-part column titled Bifu Senpu for the Kahoku Shinpo newspaper.Is featured in an article about her travels through Laos in Fujin Gaho magazine (published by Hachette Fujingaho).

2006 Is introduced in the lead story of Governance magazine about new trends in regional design.Is dispatched to Thailand by the Nippon Foundation’s Nippon Skilled Volunteers Association to provide assistance to a local OTOP project.

2007 Is featured in a six-part Aomori Hito Sanmyaku series in the Aomori edition of Asahi Shimbun.Yuzuriha no uta is published by Shufu to Seikatsusha.

2008 Appears four times on the Night Essay late-night NHK Radio program to introduce the handicrafts of the Tohoku region.

2009 Appears as a guest on the Joho Terrace program of NHK’s Sendai Broadcasting Station to introduce the handicrafts of the Tohoku region.Is introduced in Lee magazine’s lead story about encounters with outstanding handicraft items.

2010 Serves as coordinator at the 151st Japan Initiative Forum on “Handing Down the Handicrafts of Japan to Future Generations.”

Lectures, Seminars, etc.

  • Lecturer for Morioka Tezukuri Mura (Morioka Handicraft Village) in Iwate Prefecture
  • Craft-making and marketing adviser and lecturer for the village of Showa, Fukushima Prefecture, known for its ramie textile production
  • Textile design and marketing adviser in Laos
  • Lecturer in local design for the Wani Design Project (held at the town of Wani, Aomori Prefecture, sponsored by Wanimokko and NPO Harappa)
  • Coordinator at the 97th Japan Initiative Forum on “Reviving Japan through Low-Tech Ventures (July 2005)
  • Coordinator at the 151st Japan Initiative Forum on “Handing Down the Handicrafts of Japan to Future Generations.” (February 2010)
  • Assistance to an OTOP project in Chiang Mai, Thailand, through The Nippon Foundation’s Nippon Skilled Volunteers Association (2006)
  • Introduces the Tohoku region’s handicrafts on Bijinesu Miraijin, an NHK Educational TV documentary program about future business leaders (Adapting the Wisdom of the Past for the Modern Era) in 2005 and on the Night Essay late-night NHK Radio program in 2008