Echizen Lacquer Ware


It is thought that this particular lacquer ware dates back to the 6th century. A lacquerer was ordered to recoat the kanmuri or formal headpiece of the Emperor of the times. The lacquerer also presented a black lacquered bowl to the Emperor who recognized the quality of his work and it is thought that it was this encouragement which led to the establishment of Echizen Shikki as an individual ware.

The turned goods is made from wood placed on a lathe in line with the grain and is usually Japanese chestnut (Aesculus Linn.), a type of birch called mizume (Betula grossa Sieb. et Zucc.) or zelkova (Zelkova serrata). Boxes and other complex pieces are coated with a finishing of hana-nuri. This is a lacquer which does not show any brush marks or blemishes and it is allowed to harden without any further attention. The result of a number of coatings of lacquer on a robust ground, this ware is well known for its gloss and gentle air of quality. Bowls, traditional food trays, conventional trays and stacking boxes or jubako are the most representative items produced of a ware which is also know as Kawada ware.


The base form is made from Japanese horse chestnut, catalpa, zelkova or similar woods cut longitudinally and shaped on a potter’s wheel. A characteristic of Echizen Shikki is the hana-nuri coating method, whereby pots are given a lacquer finishing so that brush-marks and dust do not show and are then left to dry. The glossy finish produced by the many layers of undercoating as well as the elegant final products are justly famous. Echizen Shikki is also known as Kawada Nuri (lacquerware).

How to make

The base form is coated with many layers of a mixture of persimmon juice, charcoal powder, and pine soot. Flat surfaces are coated in layers of a base coat made from raw lacquer, zinoko powder and rice paste. The intermediate and top coats are given with refined lacquer applied with a brush. Gold inlays and gold-speckled lacquer are used for decoration.