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Meet the Maker: Hozho

Silversmith and leather craftsman Sadahiro Arikawa, the creator of Hozho, grew up in an area of Japan surrounded by wildlife and nature which had a profound impact on his childhood and evoked a deep connection to the world and its materials. Growing up next to woodland and forest and in a house brimming with creatures, he felt completely at ease and at one in their company. This bond formed a lasting connection to nature and gave way to the exquisite pieces of jewelry we see today. A fiercely private individual, we take a deeper look into the work, the inspiration and the techniques behind the name.

Technique is extremely important to your work; can you tell us more about the techniques you use?

“It’s difficult to really explain my methods. I use very ancient techniques and have very few tools. In fact, I have seen amateurs with more tools than I have! But for me, that simplicity is crucial as it’s the way I improve and master my technique. I strongly believe that if I don’t master the technique, I won’t create anything better. I make most of my own tools as well, preferring the analog method to high-tech machinery. This keeps me connected to the material and forces me to rely on my own skill as opposed to the skills of a machine.”
Completely self-taught, Sadahiro hasn’t read even a short manual. I asked if he takes inspiration from other designers, but he explained that for him, studying the work of others isn't really of great importance to him, “to hear the voice within more deeply, that is what influences me. Some of my customers make requests and they send me photos of other artist’s work and ask me to replicate into my own style. Truthfully, I don't always love these kinds of requests but since I work alone, the occasional request can be an unexpected stimulate to create something new.”

Each of your series have quite distinctive names. How do you decide on each series name?

“Truthfully, the names have no real importance. I am far more concerned with the method, the style and on strengthening myself through my work. They often evolve naturally as I create a piece that may have a theme to some extent.” A deeply spiritual individual, it is evident just how connected Hozho is to nature and to the material Sadahiro works with.
In some of his work, he uses natural gemstones and I asked if the spiritual qualities of each have bearing on him choosing them. “I only use 100% natural gemstones but for me I don’t look too deeply into their qualities. When you see something beautiful in nature, you don’t necessarily think about how it is beautiful, or why it became so, you just admire its beauty. This is how I feel about the stones. I am only concerned by their beauty."

I was particularly fascinated with your feather bracelets which I think are beautiful and so delicate – what was the inspiration behind this series?

“There was no particular inspiration. In Japan the feather motif was popularized by Goro’s and widely produced by other brands so I didn’t make them at first. However, there were many customers requesting a Hozho version and the demand was so great I decided to do it. But I thought to myself, if I’m going to do it, I want to go all out and make mine with detailing that was so over the top it would be difficult to imitate. Creating from such a spirit of struggle can also be a driving force of motivation!”

“Within a 1mm (3/64”) width I’m stamping at minimum 4 curved lines, with many areas featuring 6 curved lines, all finely stamped parallel to each other without the use of glasses or a magnifying glass, using only the naked eye for guidance. It is extremely physical work, but mental strength is even more important when working on such a precise and intricate motif.”

What’s next for Hozho?

“Hozho is me and everything I stand for and believe in. I have always dreamed of being the best in the world at one thing and I've put that determination and creative focus into Hozho. Regarding a new series, I don’t really seek them out, it’s determined by when it comes to me. In other words, it is always undecided. That is the most wonderful thing."