Stoves, furniture, and even kitchens. 6ty6 is a distillation of everything I have done.
-When did you first get involved with 6ty6?
Well, the owner kind of surprised me by coming by about three years ago. He heard about me from somebody he knew and came by to see my home showroom.
-You have a home showroom? Care to tell us more about that?
I built it myself from scratch. Even though I only know about half of what I?m doing. I moved to Hokkaido when I was about 32, and I lived in Sapporo for ten years. I moved to Niseko ten years ago. I?ve been living in Hokkaido for 20 years now. I?ve had the goal of making my own log house from the very start; now, I?m finally doing it, and I can show it off.
-What started your interest in log houses?
Usually, buildings are all straight lines, right? However, with a log house, the wood is cut by hand, so there are free flowing curves all over. It has a pleasant feeling of freedom. It feels like being freed from conventions.
-Why did you choose to live in Niseko?
Niseko has a lot of extraordinary buildings; it inspires a feeling of freedom. I found the atmosphere very enjoyable. While we were looking for a place to build the home, my wife found a spot and said, ?this would be perfect for our budget!?
-So you had your wife?s support?
It was the other way around. My wife was the one calling the shots. I probably didn?t understand as much. (laughs) We bought the land then built a little cabin. It was a simple shack that just barely managed to have electricity and water. Eventually, I decided to take the plunge and moved out of my home in Sapporo. About three years after that, my wife moved in with me, and we began earnestly building our log house together.
-Wow, so you worked together with your wife!
I worked in a log house store in Nagano prefecture. There were a lot of people working there that had a passion for log houses, and my wife happened to be one of them. After we began talking, both of us started to look towards a shared vision.
-So with your house built, did you complete what you set out to do in Hokkaido?
I?m not sure if it is a good or bad thing, but you can live in an unfinished home. There are several spots where we ask ourselves, ?can we worry about this later?? Currently, we are taking a shot at running an inn from our home. So, now we need to fix a lot of things we had been putting off. We?ve taken care of a lot of it, but there are still many things we haven?t gotten to yet, I don?t see us finishing anytime soon.
-And with all that going on, you got commissioned by 6ty6, right?
Yeah, that?s right. At first, the request was for a wood stove; however, after talking back and forth a lot, we decided on trying to make a stove and sofa as well. The direction for the atmosphere of the store hadn?t been decided on yet. I was mostly making it up as I went along. I didn?t know what would be in the shop or how they would be placed. I had a knot in my stomach that didn?t go away until it was all done. I proceeded with the intent of creating an atmosphere that was a little chaotic, but you could still find comfort to guide you.
-You even build wood stoves?
Yeah. I can assemble them, but I?m also acting as a kind of wood stove importer. The one installed in 6ty6 was imported from Holland. I did not initially plan to sell wood stoves. I was taking a workshop to put one together for my own home; then my wife asked me, ?couldn?t you turn this into a business?? Now, I?ve got the stove in 6ty6, I?ve made furniture, I?ve made kitchens, it all feels like a real distillation of everything I?ve done.
-Which furniture pieces are Kudo originals?
Anything in the store that looks rough around the edges was probably made by me, (laughs) the table, the large shop divider, this sofa right here. I make stuff with wood I find, or somebody gives me. I will also take home wood I find just lying around. I like to have the wood in my hand and imagine what it could become. A furniture maker probably usually decides something like, ?I?ll use this for the trim. And, I?ll use this for the wood.? However, I think it feels more natural and exciting to let the wood decide. When I was asked to make a sofa, before I completed it, I said, ?Let me think about if I can.?
-Where did you learn your woodworking techniques?
I learn by imitating the work of others. I?m self-taught.
-If you are self-taught, then you probably run into walls sometimes.
Yeah, I do run into walls sometimes. However, when I run into a wall, I change the shape of the wall so I can get around it. There was a point when I was working on my home that I was going to need a crane. We managed somehow with human ingenuity and elbow grease. (laughs) When I run into a problem, I change my perspective and figure out a way to overcome it.
-Do you plan to continue to live in Niseko?
I don?t know. My goals and the things I want to are always changing. I don?t have a strong feeling that I need to stay. But, the longer I stay in Niseko, the more I like the place.
-What is the charm of Niseko?
It?s different seasons. It isn?t a little change from season to season up here; the difference is drastic and noticeable. The colors and the taste of the air can be completely different today compared to yesterday. It is an exciting bonus of living somewhere people rarely live.