Tokio HAZUMI was born in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, in 1926.
After the World War II, he entered Toray Industries Inc. and worked there for 31 years. He had a long career in planning and providing staff training for his company.
Designed a hexagonal shaped house on his own while working for Toray in his forties. He made all the interior finishing work and the exterior construction work himself.
Left Toray at age 51 and started self-taught pottery. He used clay from Shigaraki and began creating human faces. He named his ceramic work “Mentō1” and took the name of “Kuraku2”. At the beginning, the shapes of Mentō were flat, but after a while, their shapes evolved to three-dimensional. Kuraku continued creating Mentō that show various emotions for 36 years. He also left many sumi paintings. He held exhibitions within Japan and in Michigan State, USA.
Closed his life at age 87, in 2013.
1 It is an original word created to name his ceramic artwork by Kuraku. 面 stands for ‘faces’ and 陶 represents ‘ceramic’.
2 The artist 九楽 replaced the kanji character 苦 that stands for sorrows, pains or sufferings with another kanji character 九 with the same pronunciation. 九 represents number nine. It is his original coined word and his artist name to express his life philosophy that if one willingly challenges the sorrows, troubles or difficulties in life, they can be turned into many joys or happiness.
Hello, we are Kaori and Moritz! Thank you so much for visiting our website. Let us explain a little bit about ourselves. We are a couple living in Japan and decided to introduce Mentō to the world. Please read below to find why Mentō is important to us and the meaning of this project.
Tokio HAZUMI, Kaori’s grandfather put his heart into creating Mentō for 36 years with massive power and passion. As a ceramic artist, he took the name of ‘Kuraku’. After he passed away, uncountable number of Mentō lost their head of a household and quietly lived in his house.
Kaori and Moritz decided to build their new house to where Kuraku’s house used to be. Mentō moved in with us to our new home and we started to feel more attached to them as we lived together.
When we shed a light on many Mentō that were sleeping quietly, they looked happy and we felt pleasant. Experiencing this, we thought that Kuraku entrusted his Mentō to us. We started to feel even stronger that Mentō deserve to meet many people in the world.
In order to make Mentō to be seen and known by many people in the world, we wish to present them in various ways from now on.