The Tsuge family long enjoyed status and respect as skilled sword-makers, but with the modernization of Japan, a new trade was needed if the family name was continue its traditional association with fine craftsmanship. Today the Tsuge name is known as the
pipe manufacturer of Japan, supplying tobacco aficionados worldwide with both quality machine-shaped briars, as well as the esteemed Ikebana artisanal handmades, and that is all because of one man: the late Kyoichiro Tsuge, who passed in November of 2010 at the age of 99.
Orphaned at the age of thirteen, Kyoichiro returned to Japan from Seoul, Korea (where his father had established himself as manager of the cigarette plant of Towa Tobacco Company) to live with his uncle, in time acquiring an apprenticeship with a maker of fine ivory cigarette-holders. By his twenties Tsuge-san had married and started his own cigarette-holder making business, however, following the end of WII, he returned to Tokyo to find that there were virtually no cigarettes left in Japan.
There was still pipe tobacco, however, and so Kyoichiro Tsuge adapted by entering the pipemaking business. Even this posed difficulties, though, as briar, too, was not to be found, and thus the earliest Tsuge pipes were fashioned from high-quality cherrywood instead. Through difficulties, setbacks, and international turbulence, Kyoichiro Tsuge persevered, and it is through his perseverance that we are today able to enjoy the impressive spectrum of quality briars which bear the Tsuge name; a tradition now carried on by his three sons, and the employees and artisans of the extensive pipe-making and distribution network Kyoichiro created.
This special-edition design is presented in the form of a capacious, yet elegant and crisp Dublin-bowled Cherrywood sitter shape, sporting a fine transition, boxwood ferrule, and in this smooth-finished rendition, simply gorgeous flame grain.
- Eric N. Squires