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 the greater appreciation of netsuke (artistic toggles that originated in Japan – for more information, please go to What are Netsuke?).

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

As the name suggests, the main aim of this site is as a source of information about netsuke and other related objects both from within and outside Japan, and also to facilitate the 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 updated and moved to the current URL (http://koryuen-jp.com) in September 2020.

About Komada Makiko

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

My major publications include Netsuke (Kadokawa, 2015, as author), 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 (figurines). It may seem natural that I work in the same field, but this was not what I had originally intended.

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

However, being in a completely different environment, 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 who 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 can do but me!” So I left school within a year and flew back to Japan.

I changed the direction of my career to specialize in netsuke, and, in 1997, began to work as a translator in arts and crafts with this end in mind. In the study of 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 the greater appreciation of netsuke, and have gone to great lengths to disseminate information on netsuke in Japanese and English.

While serving as a board member of the Japan Netsuke Society and International Netsuke Society, I have also devoted more energy to writing and giving talks.

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

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

Last updated on April 10, 2021


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