About lacquerware

    Lacquerware is a craftwork unique to the East that has been developed in lacquer producing countries such as Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. Especially, Japanese lacquerware gained worldwide reputation at an early stage, and the lacquerware became known as “japan” collectively. Kyoto-style lacquerware has helped develop Japanese lacquerware since the Heian Period (794–1185) and is made with only the best materials as well as with highly-skilled techniques. Not to mention its strength and robust nature of artwork, the lacquerware is characterized by its beautiful flat, curved surfaces and corners and refined, elegant decoration.

    Unlacquered Wood

    Kyoto’s unlacquered wood is characterized by its distinctive finish. The special technique creates an extremely thin finish contrary to the thick, sturdy finish in products of other areas.


    Various processes of coating are applied. A wide range of finishes can be created by glaze coating, texture that depends on the type of wood and lacquer, and the colors of the lacquer. The most robust glazing technique is called honkataji-nuri and has 33 to 36 processes that take at least one to two years to glaze.

    Maki-e—Gold on lacquer

    Maki-e is the technique of creating gorgeous picture patterns by sprinkling gold and silver powder on top of patterns drawn in lacquer.
    Maki-e styles vary and incorporate different techniques with the use of various materials and processes. These techniques have been handed down over generations. The techniques of maki-e were refined in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. First-class art pieces were created in this area from the Heian Period (794–1185) for the needs of the Imperial Court, temples and shrines.

    Okime (Basic Design)

    Okime is a sketch to create maki-e. The profile of the sketch drawn on a thin piece of Mino paper is traced on the back of the sheet of paper with lacquer. The paper is then attached to the surface of the lacquerware so that the design is copied onto the lacquerware. Gofun, pigment made from shells, is sprinkled so that the profile will be seen. As these are sketches, okime cannot usually be shown to the public; however, there are approximately 5,000 pieces of okime created in the past in Zohiko, and they are still treasured and preserved.