Yamanaka Onsen, a town in Ishikawa Prefecture, is renowned for their wood turning. Gato Mikio Co., Ltd. was founded in 1908 as Gato Woodworking Factory in this area. Although the founder was a wood turning craftsman, the second-generation head started selling lacquerware and by the third-generation, they had specialized in the sales and planning of lacquerware. Mr. Masayuki Gato is the fourth-generation president. In order to develop new markets, he is putting in strong efforts in product planning by emphasizing on design and outsourcing the design works.
The most important concept of their product planning is lacquerware that are made using techniques that are unique to Yamanaka. The products made by Gato Mikio Co., Ltd. take advantage of the many inherited traditional techniques in Yamanaka such as a lacquering technique that maintains the appearance of woodgrain or “Kashokubiki” wood curving techniques for making decorative patterns that can only be acquired by certain craftsmen in this area. Having good conversations with the artisans, they are producing products which bring out their individualities.
The effort made by Mr. Masayuki Gato had paid off as the company gained a good reputation both within and outside of Japan. As a result, they received the German Design Award in 2012 with “Karmi” which is a series of tea canister. Since then, they have continued to launch well-designed products one after another and expand their market. Their continuing study on wood techniques has depth because their original business was in woodturning. In 2017, they opened their first company-owned store in Yamanaka Onsen named “GATOMIKIO/1” with the concept – “Going back to the roots”. Rather than following modernity, Gato Mikio is maintaining a way of production in which the tradition of Yamanaka lacquerware and the beauty of its product will stay alive.