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For those unfamiliar with Yuichi Takemata, he is a metal artist and the owner of Sayuu, a beautiful gallery in Kanazawa. He began his career repairing antiques, mostly jewelry, and eventually found a niche in designing bespoke rings and table cutlery. These days you’ll find Takemata-san at Sayuu where you can watch him hand hammering away in a small atelier at the back of the gallery.

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Yuichi Takemata is intimidatingly impressive – often dressed in dark clothes and a man of few words. His hand hammering is captivating yet his jewelry inspires awe with their delicacy.

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We initially discovered Takemata-san through his cutlery works. They called to us with their unusual surface texture, especially the Ryo series that has feather-like scratches giving them the appearance of well-loved antiques.

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Hard to capture in images but the satisfying weight of the cutlery is also worth mentioning.

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We didn’t quite realize the extent of Takemata-san’s jewelry collection until we visited him. His jewelry creations are gorgeous!

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If you’re in the market for engagement rings or wedding bands, make your life easier and just make one stop at Sayuu. The tough part then becomes which one to choose, as each one, perched on their mini pedestals, seems more beautiful then the last.

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The gallery is also full of little treasures Takemata-san has collected over the years. Centuries old knives and urns that display his love for antiques in all their perfect imperfections.

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After the inspiring visit, we explored the area by night. The old district of Kanazawa is called Higashi Chaya. During the Edo period it used to be where geisha would entertain people in teahouses, perform dances and play musical instruments. This historical area is one of three old districts designated as Japan’s cultural assets so walking through the maze of little alleys brings you right back to another time. The old teahouses have all been preserved – they are mostly two stories and were built in dark stained wood with lattice façades. Today various specialty restaurants and artisan shops such as Sayuu, occupy them – rightfully so. By looking at the wonderful establishment Takemata-san has created, Higashi Chaya is in great hands.

Thank you to Yuichi Takemata for having us and to Noriyasu Moritada for facilitating this special encounter.
Photography: Armando Rafael

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