Ouchi lacquerware

Ouchi lacquerware Ouchi nuri

Autumn flower patterns drawn with colored lacquer
Gold leaves shining through rich vermillion


What is Ouchi lacquerware ?

Ouchi-nuri Lacquerware is produced in the area around Yamaguchi City, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It was named “Ouchi-nuri” as it emerged under the Ouchi clan, who boasted significant influence and power in Yamaguchi Prefecture during the Muromachi Period.
A defining feature of Ouchi-nuri is the elegant patterns of autumn flowers, such as bush clovers and Japanese pampas grass, drawn with coloured lacquer on a deep, austere vermillion base and adorned with gold leaves in the shape of Ouchi-bishi, the Ouchi family crest. Furthermore, as Ouchi-nuri Lacquerware s are coated with many layers of lacquer, they are durable and resistant to fading.
Apart from Ouchi-nuri bowls and trays, the Ouchi dolls (Ouchi-bina¬) are particularly famous and are popular as souvenirs. The Ouchi dolls were created based on the tale of Hiroyo OUCHI, the 9th head of the Ouchi clan, who is said to have invited many doll makers from Kyoto and placed dolls around his residence in order to comfort his homesick bride who was from Kyoto. As Ouchi dolls, which are defined by their round faces, almond-shaped eyes and puckered lips, are always in a pair of one male and one female dolls, they are popularly known as a symbol of matrimonial happiness.


Ouchi lacquerware - History

Ouchi-nuri is said to have started in the late 14th century during Hiroyo OUCHI’s time, when the Ouchi clan, who admired Kyoto, invited lacquer craftsmen from Kyoto to produce lacquerware in Yamaguchi. The Ouchi clan, who took up residence in Yamaguchi, modelled the towns after Kyoto and promoted cultural development. As a result, a unique culture named the Ouchi Culture, which was a blend of Kyoto, Chinese and Korean cultures, arose in Yamaguchi. Lacquerware flourished under the Ouchi Culture, and grew to become one of the Ouchi clan’s important exports to China and Korea.
Unfortunately, due to the trade with China and Korea being discontinued following the destruction of the Ouchi clan, along with the Mori clan relocating their castle to Hagi during the Edo Period, the production of quality lacquerware eventually disappeared. However, the discovery of the “Ouchi-wan”, a set of luxurious lacquer bowls from the Ouchi era, among the Mori clan’s collection during the Meiji Period sparked the revival of Ouchi-nuri, using the Ouchi-wan as a reference. The term “Ouchi-nuri” also started being used during the Meiji Period. The very first Ouchi dolls were created at the Yamaguchi Prefectural Industrial Technology Institute during the Taisho Period, and they proceeded become an integral part of the Ouchi-nuri we see today.

General Production Process

Ouchi lacquerware - General Production Process Photo:Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Where to Buy & More Information

The Yamaguchi Furusato Heritage Center

See other Lacquerware

See items made in Yamaguchi