About Koryuen and Komada Makiko

Note: In this website, Japanese names are given in the Japanese order: family-name first.

What is Koryuen?

Koryuen is a website for more appreciation of netsuke (artistic toggles originated from Japan – for more information, please go to What are Netsuke?).

“Koryuen” literally means a “garden with the scent of willow trees” in Japanese. “Koryu” is also homophonous with a Japanese word meaning “crossroad (of information or people)”, and “en” indicates a “garden,” “orchard,” and “place”.

As the name suggests, this site primarily aims at serving as a crossroad (or a source) of information from inside and outside of Japan about netsuke and other related objects, to facilitate further appreciation of netsuke.

Since its establishment in spring 2000, Koryuen has been enjoyed by many visitors from Japan and overseas. The site has been refurbished and moved to the current URL (http://koryuen-jp.com) in autumn 2020.

About Komada Makiko

Hi, I’m Komada Makiko. I’m the founder and editor of the website Koryuen. I work as writer, speaker, and translator in the field of netsuke and other arts and crafts.

My major publications include Netsuke (Kadokawa, 2015), Contemporary Netsuke: the Kinsey Collection (Chiba City Museum of Art, 2001, as translator), and Matsuda Gonroku’s Book of Urushi: Japanese Lacquerware from a Master (Japan Library, 2019, as co-translator).

My father is Komada Ryushi, a contemporary netsuke artist and a third-generation carver of okimono (statuettes). It may seem natural that I am in the same field, but I did not intend to at the beginning.

As a student, I loved studying English so much that I wanted to be a linguist. After obtaining a master’s degree in English Studies at the Dokkyo University in Japan, I enrolled in the Graduate School of the University of Alberta, Canada. My plan was to get a PhD in linguistics in five years.

However, being in a completely different setting, I realized how rare and interesting my position was. There were many linguists who were fluent in both English and Japanese, while there was almost no one who was born and raised in the family of a netsuke artist and was able to communicate in English.

Then I thought, “In the field of netsuke, I may be able to do something that no one else but I can!” So I left school in one year and flew back to Japan.

I changed my career objective to be a specialist of netsuke, and began to work as translator in arts and crafts in 1997 as part of my learning process. To study netsuke and other arts and crafts I have also visited numerous exhibitions, read many books, and attended meetings of netsuke societies.

In spring 2000, I set up Koryuen, a website for more appreciation of netsuke, and have made efforts in disseminating information on netsuke in Japanese and English languages.

While serving as a board member of Japan Netsuke Society and International Netsuke Society, I have been devoting more energy in writing and giving talks these days.

For instance, I gave a talk on netsuke in English and helped my father give a carving demonstration at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC and Freer & Sackler Galleries in 2017. I also talked on netsuke at an event held by the editorial department of a prestigious kimono magazine in Japan.

It is my wish to convey the attraction of netsuke and other arts and crafts in a variety of ways. Thank you.