In 2009, Yuhaku Nakagaki launched yuhaku, a leather goods shop. Before this Nakagaki had studied architecture, evident in the sleek lines and elegance of his new works. His emphasis on color is evident. Yuhaku’s products, which range from briefcases to phone cases, are dyed carefully by company craftsmen to achieve the signature, glowing hues. In this process, multiple colors are layered individually, creating depth, and to balance the opaque dye the leather is polished – but not to a point where its original surface quality is diminished.
The Yuhaku Philosophy
There is a philosophical current running through the yuhaku oeuvre. Dyeing leather, with an emphasis on sustainability and an ultimate goal of producing zero-waste leather, is meticulous to say the least. yuhaku’s production involves multiple color tests to produce the desired tones, and the matching of certain tones to the appropriate materials – all done in-house. So the colors of these products are not mechanically made eye candy. Their subtlety is part of a human, handcrafted character.
Additionally, the streaks and creases on the hide are preserved in the aim for “imperfect perfection.” In a highly digitalized marketplace and world, the company seeks to nurture human sensibilities. Their colors they deem irreplaceable. yuhaku’s hand-dyeing techniques are constantly evolving, and they want to train craftsmen to further expand the imaginative capacity of the brand. This can be seen in the Foschia series. yuhaku’s Foschia key clips express “fog” through their hazy color tone.
Meticulously Handcrafted Leather
In their wallets, you best see how the dyes and minimal designs complement each other. No doubt they are hefty, substantial, but their shape makes them easy to use, sliding easily into a pocket. Unlike many other wallets, the interior is lined with leather, and with use the material both in and outside softens and ages gracefully. For the exterior, craftsmen layer the material in 0.1 millimeter increments; their techniques ensure the wallet is both sturdy and lightweight without using a non-leather core. The first thing you may notice is the gradient and rich color on the front; but as you hold onto the wallet, little details will emerge, like the ease of taking coins out the purse portion or slipping your cards in.
A Galaxy of Color
The belts and bags – as well as the watch straps, keychains, even the slightly eccentric dress shoes – have equally impressive texture, color and functionality. Here you need not sacrifice quality for bold design. The Medallion Shoes, for example, have blues, pinks and greys that intimate a galaxy, and intricate broguing to boot. Fashion minimalists would love the color blocked tote bags, whose asymmetry is punchy and unique and just enough subdued. With tones from purple to turquoise (there are, of course, more subdued earth tones too), yuhaku goods make for lifelong and highly personal gifts. Indeed, the company pushes color to its material limits. Take “The Art of Flower” series, whose shades evoke the arrival of spring – dew, lavender and sunlight.
Or there is the series “Soul” (魂), which includes an iPhone case, a long wallet and a name card case. These items were made in limited quantities, in collaboration with calligrapher Koki Sugita, to celebrate the opening of yuhaku Ginza Gallery. Sugita’s rippling marks, even the tiniest, millimeters-long streaks, go nicely with the intricacies of the leather itself. With the dye they take on a luminous, even neon quality. It is difficult to believe these items are leather, without the suppleness to give it away. In the cobalt variation, the calligraphy looks like waves. The maroon leather with yellow-white streaks remind you of light painting.
Due to Tokyo’s ongoing state of emergency, reservations are recommended before visiting the yuhaku Ginza Gallery store. Same day reservations can be made by calling 070-1432-8345.