Tsuge Ikebana: Smooth Acorn (Fukuda) (S) (153) (2021) Tobacco Pipe
Product Number: 002-623-4659
Kazuhiro Fukuda is the leader of Japanese marque Tsuge's Ikebana workshop, a small outfit of three artisans who carve the company's most superlative pipes. Known as the "flowers of the pipe world," the Ikebana moniker literally translates to "living flowers" in English, a reference to the highest art of Japanese flower arrangement as well as to the quality of the work the trio does, as if they breathe life into the briar that they carve through their shaping. Fukuda was a student of both Sixten and Lars Ivarsson in the 1960s and went on to mentor a young Kei'ichi Gotoh in 1981. As such, Fukuda's shaping style is rather distinctly Danish, and nowhere is that more apparent than in his Acorn renditions, though this particular example is quite a bit different than any we've ever seen from him before.
Though this style of pipe hasn't been seen in the Acorn before, we have seen similar designs in other shapes on rare occasions from Fukuda. However, this pipe differs from those in one major way, even outside of the profile: This pipe has received the highest grade that we've ever seen on any Ikebana pipe since the founding of this site, an "S." This pipe comprises a stummel that's absolutely beset with supple curvature, the bowl and shank both taking on forms which emphasize the fullness of their contours, though this is especially apparent at the bowl. Every bit of briar on this pipe is carved to radiate softness above all else, with no sharp edges to be found on the stummel whatsoever, making for an extremely comfortable feel in hand despite the tightness of the transition. Given the shape of both the bowl and shank, this transition manifests as a large, pinched area that separates the shank and gives more definition to its oblong outline, stylistically maintaining the broadness of the bowl, though on a smaller scale and at a shorter length. As a whole, the length of this pipe is impressively reserved, coming in at less than four and a half inches long but lacking for nothing in substance, keeping it reassuring in the hand, though enabling comfortable clenching thanks to the stem's bend.
A brass-ringed push-style mount securely fits the stem to the stummel, with the stem's arrival marking the sole hard angle of the pipe, as the base has been fitted with a domed expansion ring, offering some necessary contrast against the boundless curves of the stummel. Up front the bowl sits atop a pointed, rounded heel and expands upward to an impressive width, maintaining a stature that's broader than it is tall, while the high-set waist starts an arcing taper to the gently chamfered rim. In profile, this bowl does very much look the part of an Acorn, though its pairing to the distinctive style of shank behind it reminds me of another shape: the Ryukin. Dressing the stummel here is a vibrant, honeyed stain that covers the briar in a warm, blonde hue, revealing a grain pattern that's nearly perfect, with straight grain striating the flanks and following the slight rearward cant of the shank, wrapping around the circumference of the bowl and framing two vast oceans of birdseye at the top and bottom. By looking at the grain here, it's no wonder why this pipe received an "S" grade, and this is further reinforced by Fukuda's exacting shaping and mastery of form.-John McElheny
Measurements & Other Details
- Length: 4.42 in./112.27 mm.
- Weight: 2.59 oz./73.48 g.
- Bowl Height: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
- Chamber Depth: 1.47 in./37.34 mm.
- Chamber Diameter: 0.81 in./20.57 mm.
- Outside Diameter: 2.11 in./53.59 mm.
- Stem Material: Vulcanite
- Filter: None
- Shape: Acorn/Pear
- Finish: Smooth
- Material: Briar
- Country: Japan