Kyoto Lacquer Ware


The maki-e technique of laying down gold and silver powders was preceded by techniques which first came into being during the Nara period (710-794), when Japan was under the influence of Tang dynasty China. The same techniques continued to be used and were developed during the Heian period (794-1185), when the capital was moved to Heian-kyo, now Kyoto.
Kyo Shikki prospered at the center of the country's lacquer ware industry from the Muromachi period (1333-1568), when it expanded along with the tea ceremony, which was flourishing in Kyoto at the time. The many fine pieces of work and technical know-how that was handed down by the famous lacquerers became the driving force of this craft, coupled with a superiority of craftsmanship both in terms of quality and design.

With such a long developmental history, Kyo Shikki is invested with a deep inner sense of wabi and sabi, or the essentially Japanese quality of peaceful simplicity that cannot be matched by other production centers. The work is completed with great care and attention, even for the smallest detail. It also has a formal beauty and, besides being of a fine superior design and excellent quality, it is also robust. The main items in production now are a staggering variety of tableware, fine pieces for use in association with the tea ceremony as well as pieces of furniture.


Kyo shikki, steeped in a long history, is characterized by a profound “wabi-sabi” (aesthetic view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection) flavor not seen in wares from other production areas. Its main features are its elegant and sophisticated design, its robustness, as well as the beauty of its two-dimensional and three- dimensional elements and its delicate finish.

How to make

Wooden bases are created employing various tools and techniques like sculpting wooden boards, lathing or bending by steam and then, after the rough body has been subjected to consolidation, fabric application, sabitsuke treatment (application raw lacquer mixed with polishing powder) and has been thoroughly sanded, intermediate and top coats are applied. In the decorating stage, patterns are drawn in lacquer, gold and silver powder is applied and raising, blurring and color alterations are performed to enhance the three-dimensional effect. The technique of embedding fragments of limpet shells to create patterns is also used.