If Hiroyuki Tokutomi had (for whatever reason) left pipemaking in 2005, his place amongst the pantheon of the greatest carvers who ever drew breath would have been already secured. He alone possessed the courage to present the first unhedged, unapologetically Zen approach to macro shaping. Moreover, the master held an unwavering faith that the aesthetic could be understood, even appreciated by Western collectors. Even setting all of that aside, the fact that he unequivocally demonstrated that asymmetry could be divorced from the symmetrical and improve
by doing so, broke creative shackles on pipemakers the world over, assuring his place in the history of our beloved hobby. The number of shapes Toku-san helped to redefine are legion, but the primary vehicle which carried “the word” forth, and continues to do so, is the Blowfish, and what a wonderful conveyance we now have before us.
While the foundational way of thinking about shaping remains a constant, much like nature itself, the exact manner in which a given Tokutomi Blowfish will emphasize that aesthetic is always in a state of flux, constantly evolving. Some interpretations leave one with the impression of a softness, bordering on the liquid. Others, such as this, flash keen edges and almost seem as though they were planed/chiseled from stone. What is pleasantly nibbling at my edge of reason, is that Toku-san imbued this brilliant Blowfish with one of the most profound senses of movement I have ever encountered (pic #3), but did so (impossibly?) without a trace of yielding in play. Factoring in this new stain, the stunning boxwood mount and supernova grain, I’m thinking Tokutomi has – yet again - raised the bar.
--R. “Bear” Graves