My Story

After 20 years of language teaching in
Tokyo, Japan, the last thing on my mind was thinking about what other passions
I wanted to pursue.

Then, in the summer of 2015, I was
diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, spinal cord inflammation. My condition
declined rapidly, and I was hospitalized for 8 months before learning I would
be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. As you can imagine, my life was
flipped upside-down in an instant. I had to ask my sons and husband often to
help me with the everyday tasks I could no longer do. I was grateful to have
such a supportive family, but I wanted to be more independent and do something
I wouldn’t have to rely on others for.

Since one thing I could do by myself
was make coffee and tea, I bought a cup and saucer, which happened to be Joshua
Blue by Yoshito Takenishi, who would later become one of WΛZΛ Tokyo’s first
artists. Every morning, while I made coffee to put in my cup after everybody
left for school and work, I felt the control over my life come back.

After things started to slow down, I
realized that there was so much beautiful Japanese tableware that made me feel
a spark of joy. I started thinking about how I could share them with the world.

WΛZΛ Tokyo was found with a goal to collaborate with ceramicists that preserve Japan's
traditions, make their art and stories available, and bring Japanese beauty and
craftsmanship to the American table. In doing so, I have been able to make many
new friendships, and I am honored to share with you the passion and creativity
of these talented artists.

Kyoko Inahara

Photos of the owner of WAZA Tokyo, Kyoko Inahara is sitting on her wheelchair.

The word WAZA in Japanese represents technique and skill in craft.

WAZA is often passed down through generations of potters whose craft is defined within each prefecture by a specific style, material or glaze. What makes Japanese artisans so unique is their unrelenting aspiration to achieve perfection in quality and artistry and their ability to use traditional techniques to create modern designs.