Kagawa lacquerware

Kagawa lacquerware Kagawa shikki

Vivid color variations
Highly individualistic technique, with texture that becomes more familiar through use


What is Kagawa lacquerware ?

Kagawa lacquer ware is produced in the area around Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. There is a wide range of products, such as cake boxes, trays, low tables and display cases, which are widely popular for use in various scenes of daily life.
The characteristic of Kagawa lacquer ware is the abundant variety of product types, which feature beautifully elegant multi-colored lacquers. This lacquer ware is resistant to breakages, and a mellow feel and beautiful glaze appear as the articles are used over a long period of time.
The typical technique was established as a result of Zokoku TAMAKAJI’s studies of lacquer ware imported from China and Thailand in the latter part of the Edo Period. Techniques such as kinma and zonsei have been handed down to modern times and continue to be used, having been produced from ancient lacquer ware techniques. The name kinma is said to derive from the actual name of a Thai plant, and this process involves filling line-engraved patterns with colored lacquer, one color at a time. The work is carried out repeatedly, and the surface is flatly polished once all patterns have been filled. Zonsei is a technique that was conveyed to Japan after moving across from Southeast Asia to China, and this process involves applying colored lacquer to lacquer surfaces that are red, black, yellow, or other colors, to line-engrave or draw with hairlines the outlines and main parts of pictures.


Kagawa lacquer ware was protected by the administration of the Edo Period, which contributed to its steady growth in terms of quality and production volume. In 1638, Yorishige MATSUDAIRA moved from Mito to Takamatsu, and promoted lacquer ware production and engraving. There was a major movement of skilled artisans and master craftsmen, including the famous Zokoku TAMAKAJI. In 1806, the Takamatsu-born Zokoku TAMAKAJI turned 20 and went to Kyoto to study. In Kyoto, he enjoyed exchanges with lacquer artists, engravers and painters, and carried out pioneering research into lacquering techniques imported from China. In 1869, until his death at the age of 64, he assisted with the production of lacquer ware in service to three generations of daimyo.
Another celebrated name is that of Taihei GOTO, who produced the lacquering technique known as gotonuri. Masters such as Isoi JOSHIN and Kodo OTOMARU, who are designated as holders of techniques that are important intangible cultural assets, also played great roles in the development of Kagawa lacquer ware.
In 1949, the designation of being an important lacquer work industrial park was received, and the annual amount of Kagawa lacquer ware production reached approximately 25 billion yen. More than 70 lacquer artists were awarded prizes at exhibitions, etc., and it is said that around 2,000 people worked in connection with lacquer ware.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Kagawa Prefectural Shoko Shoreikan

Kagawa Prefectural Shoko Shoreikan

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