Katsushiro Soho


Living National Treasure of Japan
b. 1934, Kuroiso, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

  • 1949

    Apprenticed to Kikuchi Yoshitada for 6 years

  • 1955

    Became independent

  • 1965

    Studied under Yagisawa Keizo for 2 years

Exhibitions & Accolades
  • 1967

    Admitted to Eastern Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition for the first time (thereafter admitted 33 times and served as a judge 7 times)
    Winner of Japan Traditional Craft Arts Association Chairman’s Award and Encouragement Award

  • 1968

    Admitted to Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition for the first time (thereafter admitted 30 times and served as a judge several times)
    Attained artist’s name “Soho”
    Studied under Saito Bunseki for 5 years

  • 1972

    Became full member of the Traditional Craft Arts Association
    Winner of the Excellence Award at the Japan Flower Vase & Tea Ceremony Utensils Art & Craft Exhibition
    Admitted to Japan Traditional Craft Arts Wood and Bamboo Exhibition for the first time (thereafter admitted 7 times and served as a judge several times)

  • 1973

    Exhibited at Tochigi Artists Show (for 4 consecutive years)

  • 1974

    Admitted to Northern Kanto Art Exhibition (3 times)

  • 1977

    Exhibited by invitation at Tochigi Art Now Exhibition

  • 1980

    Became a judge at Musashino Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 1981

    Winner of Tochigi Art Festival Award

  • 1983

    Winner of Tokyo Governor’s Prize at Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 1984

    Exhibited by invitation at the Japan Traditional Craft Arts 30th Anniversary exhibition, Living National Treasure – Thirty Years of the Development of Traditional Crafts

  • 1985

    Modern Bamboo Craft Arts: Development in Modern Times (the first major exhibition of this art at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo). The exhibit piece Keiryu (Torrent) – namichidori weaving – was purchased by the museum.

  • 1988

    Exhibited by invitation at Tochigi Artists 88
    Exhibited at Japanese and American Basket Makers, Chicago – the exhibit piece, Yoroke Yotsume-ami Hanakago (Staggering Square Plaiting Flower Basket) was purchased by First National Bank

  • 1989

    Admitted to Kanazawa Craft Great Award Competition 89 for the first time
    Assisted Iizuka Shokansai (Living National Treasure) at Training Seminar for successors for two years

  • 1992

    Senshu ami Kikyo-mon Morikago (Thousand Line Plaiting Balloon Flower Pattern Basket) purchased by Nishinasu City Folk Museum

  • 1990

    Seika Flower Basket Midsummer Flower Basket purchased by Tochigi Prefectural Art Museum

  • 1994

    Exhibited by invitation at Asahi Contemporary Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 1995

    Solo Exhibition at Nasunogahara Harmony Hall, Second Gallery
    Judge at 10th National Cultural Festival – Tochigi 95

  • 1997

    Winner of NHK Chairman’s Prize at Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 1998

    Awarded Order of Academic and Artistic Merit by Japanese Government

  • 1999

    Bamboo Masters, Asia Society, New York, NY

  • 2000

    Bamboo Masterworks, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

  • 2001

    Bamboo Masterworks, Honolulu Academy of Art, HI

  • 2003

    Exhibited in The Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, VA

  • 2004

    Named Living National Treasure of Japan

  • 2005

    Weavers of Wonder Show at the Naples Museum, FL

  • 2006

    Hin: The Quiet Beauty of Japanese Art, Grinnell College, IA and Chicago Cultural Center, IL
    Exhibited at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA

  • 2007

    Listening to Bamboo: Japanese Baskets from the Collection of Ritalou & Robert Harris, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

  • 2009

    Listening to Bamboo, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

  • 2014

    Masterpieces of Bamboo Art in Tochigi, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya, Japan

  • 2017

    Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art, TAI Modern at Joan B Mirviss LTD, New York, NY

    Solo Exhibition, Ibara Municipal Denchu Art Museum, Okayama, Japan

  • 2018

    Fendre L’ Air, Musee du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, Paris

  • 2019

    Tochigi Bamboo Craftsman Saito Bunseki, Tochigi Kuranomachi Museum of Art, Japan

  • 2020

    Kogei 2020 – The Art of Crafting Beauty from Nature, Tokyo National Museum, Japan

    Masterpieces of Bamboo Art: Katsushiro Soho and Fujinuma Noboru, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya, Japan

    Spring is Here, TAI Modern, Santa Fe, NM

  • 2021

    Ten Thousand Flowers, TAI Modern, Santa Fe, NM

Museum Collections
  • National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
    Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, CA
    Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
    Tochigi Prefecture Museum of Fine Arts
    Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs
    Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


I started as a bamboo craftsman making daily use utensils by bamboo for 12 years or so.  From fall to spring when bamboo is good in quality for craft, I worked on bamboo, and I farmed the rest of the year.  This was what my father did.  It was in 1965 when I started to work under Mr. Yagisawa Keizo.  He made a lot of custom jewelry by bamboo back then.  I was not good at this, but I learned how to prepare and shape each bamboo before weaving and plaiting.  To make daily utensils, you do not spend much time to prepare each strip. You split bamboo and start plaiting.

I had never made flower baskets.  I tried to make my own flower baskets and took them to some stores in Tokyo, but was rejected.  Therefore, I took orders with designs and instruction. I did many repair work from these stores.  It was a wonderful way to learn.  I repaired old baskets made by Maeda Chikubosai I, Hayakawa Shokosai IV and others. I also learned flower basket making from Saito Bunseki who used to come to Otawara to have workshops once a month.  He was a student of Iizuka Rokansai and taught us some of Rokansai’s techniques.  In the beginning, I took ideas from some baskets that I liked.  Later, I started to get inspired by the nature.

I have a friend who is a painter. He paints on the field. I wondered if I could capture nature in my basket like a painter. It is not a reconstruction of nature by bamboo, but I would like to capture an essence or feel of nature in my baskets. Because I am a farmer, I understand the “smell” of nature. I have keen senses of seasons. I observe nature surrounding me, and obtain a theme of the basket.  Themes I choose are usually bright and cheerful. I would like to shape an image inspired by nature. The beauty of bamboo to me is dynamic line and space. I respect traditional techniques, but I think the developments of new techniques are also important in order to show a new attraction of bamboo. I am a practitioner rather than a theoretician.

  • Ten Thousand Flowers

  • Spring is Here

  • Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art

  • Japanese Bamboo and the World Expo: A Century of Discovery