Kishu Lacquer Ware


Wood turners settled in the vicinity of present day Shiga Prefecture during the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and the turbulent times before the end of the 16th century. These craftsmen started making wooden soup bowls using the plentiful supplies of Japanese cypresses (Chamaecyparis Spach) found locally. This led to the production of shibujiwan bowls, which were primed with the tannin-rich juice extracted from persimmons.
During the Edo period (1600-1868), lacquer ware became much more popular and it became known throughout the country as the greatest producer of shibujiwan bowls. Kishu Shikki was first called kuroe-nuri but with the increase in production, it was circulated as Kishu Shikki by which name it is known today.

This lacquer ware can be used on a daily basis and is identifiable by its simplicity and solidness. The most representative forms are kuroe-nuri and negoro-nuri . Various pieces of tableware, tray, bowls for candies as well as stationary boxes are being produced to traditional designs.


These lacquerwares consist mainly of pots that can be used for daily living and transmit an overall impression of firmness and simplicity. Kuroe-nuri and Negoro-nuri are the typical coating laquers used.

How to make

Though there are various types of lacquerware, a simple round tray, if we consider the wooden base creation process, the coating process and the decoration process, typically requires about 50 to 70 stages and, including the drying period, about 3 months to complete. When making traditional lacquerware, the work is subdivided among different craftsmen like wooden base craftsmen, undercoating craftsmen, lacquer craftsmen and gold leaf craftsmen who require about 10 years to become proficient in their respective fields.