Joboji Lacquer Ware

Joboji Nuri takes its name from the Joboji family which ruled the northern part of Iwate Prefecture during the middle ages, and it is also the name of the area.
According to local legend, monks were dispatched there from the head temple, when a famous high priest called Gyoki built Tendaiji temple in the area during the Nara period (710-794). Lacquer ware techniques were apparently introduced at the time, so that the monks would be able to make their own tableware.
A product important to the ruling Nambu clan during the Edo period (1600-1868), the making of Joboji-Nuri spread from around Tendaiji temple to the adjoining area now known as Ajiro-cho and became known as Oyama-goki ware. This larger area became the foundation of the present production.

Items of lacquer ware which have been used since ancient times such as soup bowls, rice bowls and lipped bowls are still being made. Some of the traditional bowls are patterned but most of them are finished in plain vermilion, black or a clear lacquer to show off the wood and have a sophisticated mat finish. But perhaps the biggest feature of Joboji ware is its everlasting sense of quality stemming from a use of quality materials. Bowls for soup or rice, trays, flower vases are the main products today.


Joboji nuri has long been used for items used in everyday life, such as soup bowls, rice bowls, and lipped pouring bowls. While some traditional bowls have decorations, most are unmarked, and feature a monochrome vermillion, black or brown finish that suppresses excess gloss. The Joboji region in Iwate prefecture is the largest producer of lacquerware in Japan, and boasts wares made of the best raw materials, producing finished products of such quality that they never lose their charm.

How to make

Wood from trees including the horse chestnut tree, mizume cherry tree and zelkova are used as the wooden base. After the wood is dried, raw lacquer is rubbed into the wood in order to harden it. Next, a base coat of lacquer is applied to smooth the surface. Then a mixture of grindstone powder, water and raw lacquer is applied and then ground to a smooth finish, thus completing the base coat. A top coat of lacquer is then applied with great diligence to ensure no brush marks or traces of dust stick to the bowl. The finishing coat of lacquer is applied in one of two styles: Hana (flower) lacquering, where the lacquer is allowed to dry as-is on the bowl, or Roiro lacquering, where the lacquer is polished to a smooth finish after it dries.