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.


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