From surfing to traditional crafts. [Official Program]

2019.08.30[FRI] - 09.08[SUN]
FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL KYOTO

The urushi Alaia Project BEYOND TRADITION is an exhibition and movie that kicks off in Kyoto and tours Japan, coinciding with the September visit by globally renowned wood surfboard shaper Tom Wegener.

he project was initiated by Takuya Tsutsumi, fourth generation successor of Kyoto lacquer company Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi, and Shin Aoki, producer of Shin & Co, who were both deeply touched by work and philosophy.

The project connects seemingly contrasting themes—surfing and traditional crafts, Australia and Japan, land and sea, nature and humans, things and places, now and then—and is creating a big loop and wave as it returns to our lives.

Join us on this simple yet grand journey that takes us from “global” to “local,” and leaves something for the next generation.


It was Wegener’s wood surfboard, the Alaia, that instigated this project. This board continues to influence surfers around the globe as an alternative to urethane surfboards, which pose a negative impact to the environment.

Tsutsumi was one of the many who were influenced by the Alaia. From his family’s business, he had rediscovered the possibilities of lacquer as a natural varnish, and after multiple happenstances and journeys he gifted a lacquer-coated Alaia to Wegener.

This special Alaia, the inspiration for the project, will be on display along with other pieces by Tsutsumi, including a skateboard and bicycle.

There will also be a photo exhibition by Ryan Jones, a photographer who has followed the Alaia’s journey through his camera lens. The exhibition showcases the playfulness that underlies the project as well as the potential of lacquer.



Tom Wegener — Tom Wegener Surfboards

Tom Wegener was a legendary surfer on the team of Donald Takayama along with Californian surfer Joel Tudor.

Today, Wegener is a master shaper who creates wooden surfboards in Noosa Heads, Australia. He revived the Alaia, the wooden surfboards ridden by Hawaiians in ancient times, as an alternative to urethane boards.

In addition to being a master surfboard shaper, Wegener is also an expert on culture and history. In 2009 he was named Shaper of the Year by Surf Magazine, and in 2019 he received his PhD from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

He is a huge influence with his philosophy on nature and way of life, expressed through surfing.



Takuya Tsutsumi — Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi

Takuya Tsutsumi is the of Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi. After graduating from the School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, he worked in several industries before returning to his family’s business in 2004. Trained in the skills of filtering, purifying and mixing lacquer, today he responds to the needs of the community by offering traditional craft products and repair services. Sensing the Japanese people’s detachment from lacquer and seeing a decline in production, he began the urushi no ippo project, which aims to bring lacquer into the lives of children. His projects Surfboard x Urushi, BMX x Urushi and Skateboard x Urushi offer new and exciting expressions of lacquer. He works tirelessly to make the world cleaner for the next generations with lacquer, a sustainable and natural varnish.



In ancient times, long before the Europeans came, Hawaiians enjoyed surfing on wooden boards. They say it was part of the people’s lives, enjoyed by all regardless of gender or status. The wooden boards were called Alaia, Paipo and Olo, and were used in slightly different ways.

The Alaia was the most popular board, standing from seven to twelve feet. The Paipo is the equivalent of today’s body board, and was mainly used by children. The Olo was longer than the Alaia, as long as 17 feet, and was reserved for royalty.


Beyond Tradition ALAIA x URUSHI — 14 min. movie with Japanese subtitles

Tom Wegener is a wooden surfboard shaper in Australia, and Takuya Tsutsumi is the fourth-generation successor of Kyoto lacquer company Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi. The natural materials they use are different, yet both are committed to nature in their respective locations and work. They both feel immense gratitude to nature, they both want to conserve it, and they both want to pass it down to the next generation. The two met through these fundamental ideas, which transcend country, language and industry. Beyond Tradition is a short film about the lacquer coated Alaia, the symbol of their friendship and philosophies. May this lacquer coated Alaia travel the world, ride the waves, and make us see nature’s grandeur and value.

Period: Aug. 30, 2019 [FRI] — Sep. 08 [SUN]
Venue: FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL KYOTO — South of Tominokoji-Gojo


spot.02Make Your Own Chopsticks Work Shop

Time: Sep. 01, 2019 [SUN] starts 11:00 am
Fee: 1,000 yen (participants will take home their own chopsticks) plus one drink order

Venue: FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL KYOTO — South of Tominokoji-Gojo


spot.03Tom Wegener has come! Reception party
Time: Sep. 06, 2019 [FRI] opens 6:00 pm, starts 6:30 pm
Fee: 2,000 yen (includes snacks) plus one drink order, maximum 70 seats

Venue: FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL KYOTO — South of Tominokoji-Gojo


spot.04Wegener Surf Stay in Keihoku
Fee: 38,000 yen (includes accommodation, meals and PAIPO) * Does not include travel fees to Keihoku
* Maximum capacity: 8
* Capacity and fees are subject to change
Location: Keihoku region
Meet-up: Sep. 07 [SAT] 3:00 pm at the venue


spot.05Our journey continues from Kyoto across Japan!
We have multiple in-progress collaborative developments with various stakeholders across Japan who support the cause of this project. Information on these projects will be announced on the official website and social media, so please stay tuned.




Sponsor: KYOTO KOUGEI WEEK Executive Committee
Co-sponsor: Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi


Shin & Co, FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL KYOTO, PERSPECTIVE, Tom Wegener Surfboards, Wegener surf stay, Truck Furniture, Bird coffee, Yotsutsuzi, Roots, GOOD SURF WAX, KYOTO CRAFTS MAGAZINE, Lamp, freaks skateboard, Kaleidocycle, bonna nezze kaartz, and Mibu Mokuren