For me personally, Ichiyoh is the true Zen Master of miniatures masterpieces. I am now taking you to a faraway country: to Japan and to the city of Tokyo. High-tech metropolis and there is nothing that does not exist. Whether you buy warm soup from a vending machine in the middle of the night or get lost in a crowded model store: You will never forget this city again.
This is where Ichiyoh Haga lives.
Ichiyoh Haga is one of the most important model makers of our time. If you look at the photos of his models you think you are looking at a scene 1/1. Only after a few seconds you realize that it is a miniature world. The following interview I did with him by eMail. Dear Ichiyoh, thank you very much for your time and the photos!
Ichiyoh, first tell us something about yourself
Born in Tokyo in 1948. Now I am 72 years old (2020). Until 1995 I ran several stores (ladies’ and children’s clothing stores). Because of the recession in the Japanese economy, I closed all the stores I had. After that, I started making models. Since then I was constantly asked to make special designs. The number of students in the workshop has increased and I am still doing it.
My Wife is 73 years old. The oldest son is 43 years old. The oldest daughter is 37 years old.
I am Representative of Micro Cosmos Co. Ltd., Honorary member of the Japan Dollhouse Association and Member of Shibuya Craft Club.
You are a fantastic model builder. Where do you get inspiration for your models?
When I was young, inspiration naturally came to my mind quite easily. When I woke up in the morning, the shape of the goods to be produced that day and all the work processes were already entered in my head. I think my brain was thinking about it while I was sleeping. All I had to do was get out of bed and do it exactly as I saw it while I slept. Now that I’m an old man, I don’t get much inspiration anymore.
Look at that: Ichiyoh is the true Zen Master of miniatures masterpieces, or not?
You also give courses, right? What do the participants learn from you?
In my studio I rarely use plastic model kits or off-the-shelf parts. Everything I make by hand. So it takes time. First of all I would like to convey to you that the production of things takes a lot of time. I want you to discover the fun of crafting by doing it over a long period of time. If you enjoy doing it, you will of course be good at it.
“All I had to do was get out of bed and do it exactly as I saw it while I slept.”— Ichiyoh Haga
What is the story about your work that was totally funny or inspiring for you?
One day I received an order from an American woman. I was asked to build a harness store, horse harness, that her ancestors ran in Minnesota 100 years ago. So I went to the United States to research and do a study. Then I finished this work and I delivered it. In 2010 the Americans were very pleased with my work. This work was later published in a famous American magazine.
Somewhat later I received an email from a millionaire from Qatar who saw this magazine. “I want you to do one of the same things for me”. This time I went to Qatar for a meeting. The man was a rich man who was a second cousin of the king. There were 100 servants in the manor house. Of course I made another harness store for him and delivered it in 2014.
Zen Master of Miniatures
Take your time to look at it. Isn’t that incredibly beautifully built?
“My favorite time is to drink shochu (a type of alcohol) while looking at the finished work.”— Ichiyoh Haga
Every model maker has a model he fails at. How did you perhaps fail once?
I also have some works that I do not like. However, I do not believe that there is a failure. I will fix it a little bit before I fail, so it won’t look that bad.
You live in Tokyo, right? Do you have any pictures of model making stores in Tokyo and could you show and tell us something about them? This is certainly interesting for modelers in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
There is a large hobby store called “Yellow Submarine” in Akihabara, Tokyo. In the corner of this store is my display case called “Ichiyoh Haga Miniature Collection”. Please stop by when you come to Tokyo. There is also a small model store called “Model Wam” about 10 minutes by bike from my house where I often go to.
What do you enjoy most when you build a model?
My favorite time is to drink shochu (a type of alcohol) while looking at the finished work.
What else would you like to tell the members of scalemodel.zone? A tip? A wisdom?
“It’s best to make something you like in a relaxed mood.”— Ichiyoh Haga
About Ichiyoh, Zen Master of Miniatures
I have a private gallery in Tokyo. Please drop in when you come to Tokyo after the coronavirus has left. Gallery ICHIYOH is now open. 3-23-22 Nakazato Kitaku Tokyo 10:00 am. ~ 18:00 pm. Please email us before visiting.