Amita Co. artists: Minai, Torahiko Kanamori, Takeshi

Fujii, Yoshitoyo [藤井美豊] (b. 1868)

Yoshitoyo (Biho) Fujii

Fujii Yoshitoyo was born in 1868 in Kyoto, Japan. Some sources write "Yoshitoyo" as "Biho" or "Miho", as 美豊 can be read in several ways. In addition, Fujii's first name can be written either as 美豊 or 美豐, since 豊 kanji is the simplified form of 豐. Fujii's family is known as early as 17th century and for four generations has enjoyed renown as the producer of inlaid work of first rank. Early in life, Yoshitoyo trained himself in this art, which led him to perceive the fact that there was ample room for further improvements and developments. Long experience and careful study gave him the skill and knowledge by which he could perfect the art, but Kyoto in those days was quite conservative, so that it was practically impossible for him to carry into practice the results of his investigation. He left home and came to Tokyo, the centre of learning, where he devoted himself to the art for a number of years, and finally succeeded in introducing valuable improvements.
In 1902, at the age of 35, Fujii obtained his first patent from the Imperial Government. In 1909 he was granted his second patent. His damascene work, being made mostly from designs drawn by Prof. Bisei Unno of the Tokyo Fine Art School, well met the taste and requirements of the time.

Inside the Y. Fujii's factory.

The number of workers employed in the Fujii factory had reached over 200, while his productions are sought not only by Asiatic countries, China, India, etc. but also by countries of Europe and America. The principal articles exported consisted of broaches, scarf pins, cuffs, coat buttons, bracelets, necklaces as well as card cases, cigarette cases, match boxes, writing sets, flower vases, cabinets and other decorative articles. At some point his works were traded by the Mitsukoshi company.

Miniature of the Kyoto Kinkaku-ji temple by Yoshitoyo Fujii.

In many exhibitions first class medals have been awarded him for his exhibits, and to his great honour his works has been purchased by the Imperial Household. In 1910 Fujii participated in the Japan-British Exhibition held in London. In 1914 he presented his works in Tokyo Taisho Exhibition in Tokyo. A year after he went to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, USA. In 1933 he visited Chicago at a Century of Progress International Exposition.
In fact, his inlaid work standed conspicuous among similiar productions of Japan. The damascene work made by his special skill, the miniature of the Kinkaku-ji Kyoto reduced to 1/50 of the orginal, took him four years to complete and cost him 15,000 yen. This has been sent to the Japan-British Exhibition.
Although Fujii's works are extremely detailed and very similar to the, for example, Komai family works, they are done in the etching technique and not in the traditianal Nunome Zogan. As for now, it is believed that the patents he received in the 1900's were about the new technique of damascening he was working in, which is the reason none of the Nunome Zogan pieces of Fujii are found yet.

Addresses and locations
Examples (from the web)