Reiichi Kurusu (who goes by "Ray") was born in Osaka, Japan, a bustling city where he still has a home, and within that home you will most always find him in his workshop. Ray never gave pipes much consideration until he made a visit to the Tokyo Pipe Fest, and ran into an unassuming carver named Hiroyuki Tokutomi. To say that Kurusu was intrigued by both the master and his craft would be an understatement; he immediately asked Toku-san if he would consider mentoring him in the art, and found himself already giving pipe making as a career serious consideration by the end of his first session. Since that fateful day, Ray has visited the legendary carver countless times, learning as much as he could with every session.
Under Tokutomi's tutelage, Ray made steady progress over the following years, making, in his words, "A huge leap" during the last six months of that period. Clearly Sykes agreed with the self-appraisal; encountering Kurusu's work at the annual Pipe Fest, he offered to purchase Reiichi's briars for our site on the spot. Ray only uses Mimmo briar, refuses to have anything to do with pre-formed stems, and his draft holes are measured to an easy-drawing 4mm. When asked to cite pipe makers, both living and passed, whose work he most admires, Ray is quick to respond with the likes of Bo Nordh, Jørn Micke, Jess Chonowitsch, Bjorn Bengtsson, the Ivarssons, Kei-ichi Gotoh, Takeo Arita, and (of course) Hiroyuki Tokutomi.