Murakami carved lacquerware

Murakami carved lacquerware Murakami kibori tsuishu

Grows in beauty with each use
A myriad of designs through dynamic engravings and detailed patterns


What is Murakami carved lacquerware ?

Murakami Kibori Tsuishu lacquerware is produced in the area around Murakami City, in Niigata Prefecture. The Murakami region, which was formerly the Murakami Domain, has been famous for its production of natural lacquer since the Heian Period. It was on the streets of this castle town that the beautiful craft involving elaborate engraving and durable, colourful lacquer finishing blossomed. Tekko, the Chinese form of tsuishu which the Murakami Kibori Tsuishu was based on, involved engraving designs on thick layers of lacquer. In Murakami Kibori Tsuishu, however, engraving is done directly on the wood base before applying the lacquer coating, thereby reducing the amount of lacquer required in addition to enabling artists to create dynamic engravings and detailed patterns. The articles are also extremely durable as they are coated several times with a viscous type of lacquer in order to prevent lacquer from flowing into the grooves. Part of the production process includes dulling, which results in a matte finish that can be likened to light from a hazy moon, but the articles grow in gentle luster the more they are used.
The characteristics of Murakami Kibori Tsuishu are its durability against daily use, and the way it gains a deep luster over the years it is used. This is not an art craft that is simply meant to be displayed and admired; the true value of Murakami Kibori Tsuishu can only be brought out through daily use.


Murakami Kibori Tsuishu is said to have originated approximately 600 years ago in the Muromachi Period, by a lacquer craftsman who came to Murakami from Kyoto to aid in the construction of a temple. The lords of the Domain actively promoted the techniques during the Edo Period, and a lacquer magistrate was established in the latter half of the 17th century, further boosting the cultivation of lacquer trees.
The tsuishu and tsuikoku that we see today started to be produced in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the Murakami samurai warriors who worked in Edo began to pick up lacquering and lacquer carving techniques as a hobby, and contributed to the development of the industry when they brought these techniques home with them.
The late Edo Period saw the birth a master craftsman, Shusai ARIISO (1809 – 1879). Born as the second son of temple carpenter Hachirobe INAGAKI, he was learning the family business under his father but his passion was sculpting. He went on to study sculpting in Edo along with lacquer arts, and acquired various techniques such as tsuishu and tsuikoku. By adding sketches of Chinese designs and incorporating kamakura-bori techniques to improve quality, he laid the foundations of the Murakami Kibori Tsuishu that we see today.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Murakami-Kibori-Tsuishu Center

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