Wajima lacquerware is known in Japan for its high quality and elegance and also for its high price. A young generation of artisans is challenging this image. While not compromising on standards, they want to produce affordable Wajima lacquerware. Amongst them are the Kirimoto’s.
Kirimoto is the name of a Wajima lacquerware producing family. Taiichi Kirimoto, Vice Representative, Designer and Producer, his father Toshihei Kirimoto, Representative, and his brother Seiichi Kirimoto, Wooden Core and Painting Artisan, are running the company.
The Kirimoto’s can trace their business tradition to the late Edo Period. Taiichi is the 7th generation Kirimoto who is in the woodcraft and lacquer business. The Kirimoto clan started out in producing lacquerware, then moved into woodcraft, and back into lacquerware. Hence, they are experts in both crafts.
Their artisan woodcraft items range from large and complicated items like furniture to small and simple tableware, including bowls, trays and spoons. The Kirimoto’s use mainly white-bark magnolia.
Taiichi Kirimoto is not only an artisan but he has accumulated a wealth of business experience when he worked at another company and he holds a university degree in product design. Taiichi comes across as a challenger who seeks modern applications to a traditional art and craft.
His company engages in all business functions, ranging from the design of the product to manufacturing and sales.
Kirimoto not only produces luxurious items, but they want to make Wajima lacquerware, which has the image of being very expensive, accessible to many people. They want people to use Wajima lacquerware items in daily life, not just for special occasions.
Kirimoto runs different product lines, including a traditional line (to be used in a traditional Japanese setting), a new line (users can eat from the plates by using knives and forks) and an Italian/French line (mainly flat, black plates that allow for an enhanced visual presentation of foods).
In addition to the store in Wajima’s Honmachi Street, there are sales outlets in Kanazawa and Tokyo. The showroom in Honmachi Street is usually open to visitors but a tour of the factory needs prior reservation.
Taiichi is reaching out, he even wrote a book, but he wants people to come to Wajima and visit the factory to experience the making of Kirimoto lacquerware first-hand. Those who do not want to travel that far can catch a glimpse of Kirimoto ware at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi in Tokyo, 5th floor’s J Spirits shop.
Even better, visit Starbucks in Yokohama Minatomirai to see Kirimoto table tops in action in a casual setting. Alternatively you can admire a Kirimoto countertop at the Hinokizaka sushi restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, also in Tokyo. What more proof do you need that Kirimoto lacquerware is top-class.
And here comes a great idea for where to find woodcraft and lacquerware presents. Visit Wajima Kirimoto’s English online store and take your pick from the extensive selection. On some items you can even let them add a personalized touch, like a name or a wish, in gold lacquer in alphabet, kanji, hiragana or katagana. Then get it gift wrapped and shipped to your door - ready to surprise a loved one!