PROFILE OF YOKO TANAKA
President, Craft Shop Yuzuriha
Born in 1955 in the town of Takko, Aomori Prefecture. Founded Craft Shop Yuzuriha
next to Lake Towada, Aomori Prefecture, in 1989 to introduce the handicrafts of the
Tohoku region. The highly popular shop, now in its twenty-second year, showcases the
kind of carefully selected items that can only be found there, reflecting both the founder’s
deep love for Tohoku and her modern sensibilities. Has worked with artisans to come up
new ideas about how handicrafts can be more fully incorporated into the modern lifestyle
while also communicating to visitors the story behind the creation of each exhibited item.
Has organized exhibitions and conducted talk shows in cities around the country each
month with the aim of familiarizing people in not only Towada but also Tokyo and cities
throughout Japan with the warmth and richness of handicrafts. Often appears in
newspaper and magazine articles describing her attempts to nurture the next generation of
artisans and work as a producer of new works. Author ofYuzuriha no uta (Yuzuriha
Poems), a collection of essays in Japanese about meetings with artisans, published by
Seikatsusha in 2007.
1989 Opens Craft Shop Yuzuriha next to Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture to
introduce the handicrafts of northern Tohoku (Aomori, Akita, and Iwate
1994 Begins introducing the crafts of the three other prefectures (Yamagata, Miyagi,
and Fukushima) in the Tohoku region.
1997 Organizes the first special exhibition in Tokyo at Gesshinkyo restaurant (serving
vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) in Harajuku.
2001 Organizes the First Yuzuriha Tokyo Exhibition at the Tsuta Salon gallery (held
every year since).
2002 “Tohoku’s Handicrafts Exhibition” at Living Design Center Ozone (Tokyo).
2003 Is featured in an article in theNikkei Marketing Journal.
Is featured in an article about the handicrafts of northern Tohoku inMisesu
magazine (published by Bunka Publishing Bureau).
2004 “Life Tools of Japan Exhibition” at the Tokyo Gas Showroom (Yokohama).
2005 Is introduced onBijinesu Miraijin, an NHK Educational TV documentary
program about future business leaders (Adapting the Wisdom of the Past for the
Serves as coordinator at the 97th Japan Initiative Forum on “Reviving Japan
through Low-Tech Ventures.”
Writes an eight-part column titledBifu Senpu for the Kahoku Shinpo newspaper.
Is featured in an article about her travels through Laos in Fujin Gaho magazine
(published by Hachette Fujingaho).
2006 Is introduced in the lead story ofGovernance magazine about new trends in
Is dispatched to Thailand by the Nippon Foundation’s Nippon Skilled Volunteers
Association to provide assistance to a local OTOP project.
2007 Is featured in a six-partAomori Hito Sanmyaku series in the Aomori edition of
Yuzuriha no utais published by Shufu to Seikatsusha.
2008 Appears four times on the Night Essay late-night NHK Radio program to
introduce the handicrafts of the Tohoku region.
2009 Appears as a guest on theJoho Terrace program of NHK’s Sendai Broadcasting
Station to introduce the handicrafts of the Tohoku region.
Is introduced inLee magazine’s lead story about encounters with outstanding
2010 Serves as coordinator at the 151st Japan Initiative Forum on “Handing Down the
Japan to Future Generations.”
Lectures, Seminars, etc.
*Lecturer for Morioka Tezukuri Mura (Morioka Handicraft Village) in Iwate Prefecture
*Craft-making and marketing adviser and lecturer for the village of Showa, Fukushima
Prefecture, known for its ramie textile production
*Textile design and marketing adviser in Laos
*Lecturer in local design for the Wani Design Project (held at the town of Wani, Aomori
Prefecture, sponsored by Wanimokko and NPO Harappa)
*Coordinator at the 97th Japan Initiative Forum on “Reviving Japan through Low-Tech
Ventures (July 2005)
*Coordinator at the 151st Japan Initiative Forum on “Handing Down the Handicrafts of
Japan to Future Generations.” (February 2010)
*Assistance to an OTOP project in Chiang Mai, Thailand, through The Nippon
Foundation’s Nippon Skilled Volunteers Association (2006)
*Introduces the Tohoku region’s handicrafts on Bijinesu Miraijin, an NHK Educational TV
documentary program about future business leaders (Adapting the Wisdom of
the Past for the Modern Era) in 2005 and on the Night Essay late-night NHK
Radio program in 2008