Kanji Ito
Mr. Ito, a Master-Carpenter, is a carpenter who planned, processed and assembled the wood assembling structure, the skeleton of the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut. I met him during my search for a craftsman who can bring rich creativity in order to build a mountain hut that will be a base to transmit the alpine culture to the next generations. Mr. Ito’s style is one that produces open and polished living space that is harmonious to the lifestyle of contemporary people while deeply rooted in traditional conventional construction method in Japan learned from old Japanese-style houses, shrines and temples, yet without clinging onto tradition alone. His liking for architecture by Antoni Gaudi led him to travel Spain and as you can tell from his hobbies of motor biking and skiing, his personality is filled with vitality. In process of building the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut, he affably accepted my various extravagant proposals and unreasonable demands as if dealing with a clingy friend. I have many memories of him starting from traveling together to Tohoku region for purchasing lumbers to living under the same roof at construction site of the hut during winter snow, but the most memorable one is when we went to the Takase Dam Lake to retrieve huge Kometsuga (Tsuga diversifolia) and Himekomatsu (Pinus pentaphylla) lumbers. This episode is as follows. “On an Autumn day in 2008, when key members of the hut construction inspected Kumonodaira for the first time, we were waiting for a delayed helicopter arrival at the heliport adjacent to the Takase Dam Lake. At the time, Mr. Ito, a Master-Carpenter, hopped onto one driftwood and murmured, ‘Maybe I can use this lumber’. That driftwood was a Himekomatsu (Pinus pentaphylla) that got stuck in the mouth of a creek. As soon as I closed the hut at an end of the season and descended the mountain, I arranged the matter with the management office of the dam, then Mr. Ito and I headed to the heliport with a small crane truck. As we were excitedly gazing at the driftwood, still with half doubt, our eyes caught another huge driftwood floating on the surface of the dam lake. Hey, that one’s even bigger… In such sequence of events, what we picked up were one 8-meter-long Kometsuga (Tsuga diversifolia) with a tree age of 400 years and a 5-meter-long Himekomatsu (Pinus pentaphylla) with a tree age of 200 years. Both lumbers were in extremely good conditions and the fact that they were perfect size as a main beam to run through the center of the first floor made me convinced that destiny had shaped how this construction worked out. Nevertheless, I can’t forget the huge grin on Mr. Ito’s face when we were lifting the huge lumbers from the dam lake with the small crane truck. (excerpt from No. 14 issue of Nanakamado)” Architecture of Mr. Ito, Master-Carpenter, is not only a superb artifact, but it also tells beautiful stories that stir people’s imagination. I believe this must be due to the wonderful journey he has walked in his life.

Brief Biography
1952 Born in Kisakata Township in Akita City (current Nikaho City)
1966 Began apprenticeship of carpentry in Yamauchi Town in Nagano Prefecture
1980 Established Ito Building Contractor in Fujimi Town in Nagano Prefecture
He approaches his work with his creed “Building robust and elegant house using domestic natural wood”.