Ouchi Lacquer Ware


During the Muromachi period (1392-1573), Ouchi, who was a prominent figure in the area corresponding to present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture, promoted trade with Korea and Ming dynasty China. He encouraged the making of this particular lacquer ware for export and, although this trade finally died out, the skills which had been learned were carried over into the Edo period (1600-1868), and are still with us today.

Yamaguchi on the western end of Honshu, was often referred to as a ""Kyoto in the West"", perhaps referring to its air of refinement. Retaining something of that air, Ouchi Nuri is first undercoated with a dull vermilion, onto which motifs of autumn grasses are applied in a yellowish green lacquer. Cloud forms are then followed by the addition of a unique devise, the Ouchi family crest in gold leaf. Large trays, plates, coasters and figures are the mainstays of production.


Ouchi nuri techniques have been passed on from ancient times in Yamaguchi, which came to be known as the "Kyoto of the West"; to create its distinctive patterns, after a base coat of Ouchi vermilion has been applied, autumn grass is drawn in using in yellow and green lacquer, cloud shapes are added and a crest (the Ouchi diamond) is pasted in gold leaf.

How to make

The manufacturing process can be roughly divided into the following four stages: wooden base creation, base painting, coating and decoration. The wooden base is made from natural woods like Ilex rotunda, Japanese cherry birch, cypress, and Zelkova. For the decoration of Ouchi wan (bowls), gold-sprinkled lacquer and lacquer are applied after bengara-urushi have been applied on the base with shibu shitaji (base coating using persimmon tannin) using hana-nuri method.