Kei-ichi Gotoh: Smooth Volcano (0421) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-295-0087

After making pipes for several years as an amateur, Kei-ichi Gotoh joined Kazuhiro Fukuda at the Tsuge Ikebana workshop in 1981, crafting artisan pipes for Ikebana until 1987 and learning under the tutelage of Fukuda. After leaving the Japanese workshop, Gotoh sought mentorship under revered Japanese carver Hiroyuki Tokutomi. Since then, Gotoh has made pipes under his own name, and he maintains an extremely low annual production rate, methodically carving each stummel and stem by hand to ensure the utmost quality in engineering, smoking comfort, and aesthetic design. His work is prized by collectors worldwide, and his pipes often reflect naturalistic elements, creating an organic style that makes each piece utterly unique and typically marked by asymmetry and beautifully oriented grain.

This Volcano does well to embody Gotoh's signature style, blending distinctive line work with subtle curves that perfectly frame the briar's natural grain patterns. In profile, the squat bowl dominates the composition's visual weight, with the slender shank adding sleekness to the design. When viewed from the smoker's perspective the lens-shaped shank face tilts slightly upward and to the left for an accent of asymmetry that's reflected in the shank's flanking ridgelines: The right side's begins high and gradually descends toward the transition, while the left side's remains more central. At the transition, then, the ridgelines continue to wrap the base of the bowl, forming the Volcano's signature design cue while the bowl's sides taper upward.

Every aspect of this pipe's shaping is designed to highlight the grain. Observed head on, the bowl features more briar along the left side, matching the trajectory of the flame grain comprising its side, and the asymmetrical orientation of the rim is positioned to showcase the resulting birdseye of that flame grain. Lastly, the entire profile urges forward in a subtle arc through the shank and heel that's continued by the slight curvature of the stem — imagined as an implied line that runs consistently from the button through the bowl's lower ridgeline. Technically, the stem is a saddle configuration; however, Gotoh has countersunk the base so that the saddle's shoulders are flush with the shank face, creating a smooth, uninterrupted form. The entire composition is a lesson in shaping according to the grain, and Gotoh's artistry and craftsmanship combine effortlessly in this rendition for a pipe that's as sculptural and breathtaking as it is expertly functional.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 7.02 in./178.31 mm.
  • Weight: 2.50 oz./70.87 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.42 in./36.07 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 0.95 in./24.13 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in./20.83 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.98 in./75.69 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Volcano
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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