Kei-ichi Gotoh: Smooth Fugu (0422) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-295-0090

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.

Among the most definitively Japanese shapes, the Fugu ("Blowfish" in Japanese) is a naturally organic shape that mimics an aquatic creature with fluid gesture and intricate line work. The shape is most broadly defined by a central panel that follows cross grain and poises birdseye across each flank, allowing for a wide degree of creative interpretation for the individual carver. Here, Gotoh presents a full-bodied, rounded Fugu rendition, resembling its spherical namesake more realistically than many other renditions. The central panel prioritizes the left side for a touch of asymmetry as it travels around the bowl, curling underneath and merging with the shank's broad outward flare. Along the left side, the shank is gently concave, while the right side reaches a more defined point accented with plateau to mirror the bowl's fore.

The shaping is a masterclass in crafting a pipe according to the specific briar block's natural grain, and Gotoh's skillful line work perfectly frames each aspect of the grain here: The cross grain is confined to the bowl's central panel, the ridgelines forming an uninterrupted boundary, while the flanks are saturated in swathes of birdseye. This is a remarkable block of briar whose potential was maximized to its fullest by an equally remarkable artisan.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.77 in./146.56 mm.
  • Weight: 3.90 oz./110.56 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.39 in./60.71 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 2.07 in./52.58 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.83 in./21.08 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.82 in./46.23 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan