Smio Satou

Smio Satou lives in Tokyo and has his workshop in an upstairs area of his home, like many of the Japanese carvers. He worked for Tsuge for 25 years after picking up the craft from his father – who was one of the first briar pipe carvers in Japan in the 1940s.

Since his retirement, Satou produces only about 40 pipes annually. The majority of his shapes are uniquely Japanese in aesthetic and construction, and each is finished with a time-honored tradition of the highest-quality Japanese lacquer (which is extremely durable, breathable, and glossy). His stems are expertly cut from solid vulcanite rod with a tenon turned from the same material, or a separate piece turned and pinned in place. Needless to say, his engineering is probably the best in the world. Most of his pipes are smooth, but he does produce some wonderful sandblasts, and the accents of each are commonly bamboo or tsuishu (very thin multi-colored layers of Japanese lacquer that takes months to produce).