This is a Kyoto love story, like a romantic movie that makes your heart sigh and your body warm all over. It’s about a woodworker from the Big Island and a fiber artist from Chicago who went to Japan separately to learn in earnest all they could about their craft . . . and found something even more valuable and real: They found each other.

Lonny Masaru Tomono was born and raised on the Big Island and moved to Oahu in his junior year of high school. After graduating from Kalani High School, the yonsei decided to pursue his interest in wood sculpture and went to the San Francisco Art Institute in 1973.

Just before finishing college, Lonny met several carpenters who were rebuilding an old Japanese temple that had been shipped from Japan. “I had heard and read in books how the Japanese build without nails, and I was real interested,” recalls Lonny.

“When I actually saw the work, I knew that was what I really wanted to do. I just couldn’t believe how sophisticated it all was, even though it was 150 years old!” By the time he got involved, work on the temple was already completed, but Lonny helped out with a new project — a temple at the San Francisco Zen Center. Lonny worked with Makoto Imai, a traditional Japanese woodworker, for three years.

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  1. Hello and Aloha, greetings from Japan!
    I am now visiting Hawaii, Kona area, and trying to meet with woodworkers here. I was given your name by Tai Lake. I have been a furniture maker in Japan since 1995, and now considering to work in the U.S. again. I was originally working in Seattle. If you have time to meet, it would be nice to talk with you. I am in Hawaii until June 12th, and then I return to Japan.
    Regards, Russell Jokela. Friend’s ph: 808-217-5024.


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