Wajima Kirimoto

Paradigm of Wajima lacquerware for the 21st century

By Alena Eckelmann    - 3 min read

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!

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

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