(Channeling W.C. Fields) "Ah yes... the Kikuchi Rhodesian: a little something for every collector!"
(end channel) When I first heard that legendary master carver Kazuhiro Fukuda had chosen a successor I was excited, but also a skosh apprehensive; Fukuda-san had some big shoes to fill. In retrospect, it was a silly worry, neither the Tsuge brothers nor Kazuhiro would hand the metaphorical keys to their crown jewels over to any carver whom they didn’t deem eminently worthy. Asami Kikuchi, was not only worthy, she rocked; there wasn’t a single shape in her debut shipment of 13 pipes that didn’t elicit a raucous “YES!” when revealed. The first forms that caught my attention were her Rhodesians. Two were sandblasted, two were smooth, and all four were not only impeccably shaped and grained, but all held something special, a unique softness and fluidity that I simply refer to as ‘Kikuchi’.
If simply presented on paper, at just over five and a half inches in length, and a bowl diameter that exceeds two, I’d have guessed the compositionally large dome would have precluded any real sense of elongation… and yet, look at the first and second photos. Balanced and graceful, this Grade ‘D’ Rhodesian is the epitome of Danish neoclassicism. From the top vantage, however, the expected sense of compression makes its appearance. The visual dichotomy results from a deft handling of the interaction between the tapered curve of the shank and the back of the bowl, something hidden by the latter in the top view. Our last batch of Kikuchi Ikebanas sold out in nothing flat. I have to commend our collector’s excellent tastes.
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves