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Here is a spotlight on two Japanese dealers who travel nearly 10,000 miles to stand at IACF Newark – the only dealers currently at these fairs to journey so far. We follow this with a longer focus (below) on Tomoko Lewis, a Japan-born upholsterer who sources furniture at Newark.

Young dealers

Tokyo-based Yuki Kobayashi and Hiroshi Muranishi own Tanuki Japanese Antiques. Tanuki refers to the Japanese raccoon dog, an animal which is a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.

The young dealers were at IACF Newark in May, having shipped over a quantity of Japanese stock including tea-making pieces, books, furniture such as ladders, vintage signage and other artefacts.

Kobayashi said: “This is our second year exhibiting at Newark and we make a two-month trip of it, buying nice vintage pine furniture to ship back to Japan and sell at fairs and markets around the country which we fit around IACF Newark.”

“Kobayashi and Muranishi are currently our only exhibitors from the Far East. It’s encouraging that they are so young

The duo stall out at three other UK events: Old Spitalfields Antiques Market, Sunbury Antiques Market and Swallow Fairs’ Donnington Antiques Market.

Grant Nicholas of IACF said: “Kobayashi and Muranishi are currently our only exhibitors from the Far East. It’s encouraging that they are so young – let’s hope that they are the vanguard of what will become a regular and expanding exchange.”

Tanuki Japanese Antiques is on Facebook.

The next IACF Newark is on Thursday and Friday, August 17-18.


Ardingly furnishes items for a makeover


Japan-born Tomoko Lewis, who runs upholstery courses in Japanese from her Surrey home, pictured in her workshop tackling a Victorian dining chair.

“I started doing upholstery 13 years ago, partly because there is no possibility to do this in Japan and antiques are so expensive. The idea to do this myself was compelling,” said Tomoko Lewis.

Lewis, formerly Kurosawa, gradually moved from hobby to study and has a City & Guilds diploma in Design & Craft Level 3 – Upholstery and is just completing her diploma in professional soft furnishing from the National Design Academy in Nottingham.

She now teaches upholstery from her Surrey home with the help of her supportive husband Jeffrey, who studied carpentry so he could repair any chairs with faults.

Tomoko, who has two sons, Sean, 20, and Eamonn, 17, said: “We bought our first vintage practice chair at IACF Ardingly in 2004 for €35 from a French dealer.

“That day it was the only thing we bought, which is rarely the case since. We sourced mainly vintage chairs. Church chairs were popular for a while. We like the French fairs (when we visit on holidays) for unusual pieces we can pick up, but our favourite fair is Ardingly. It’s close, well organised and has a good range.”

Tomoko also stalled out at small local fairs, selling some of the chairs she had worked on and building contacts.

About the courses she runs, she said: “There is a considerable Japanese community in London and I offer them the only fully qualified upholstery antiques courses in Japanese.

“I always enjoy visiting antique fairs to see how the market changes and to buy stock, but also to buy antiques for myself which I can’t resist doing.”

The next IACF Ardingly fair is on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 5-6.