< The History>
Starting from the late Edo period (1603-1868), the Kirimoto Family had been the Nushi-ya; the coordinator and the producer of complete lacquerware manufacturing and sales, till the Meiji period (1868-1912).
Then, the third generation Hisataro Kirimoto placed huge efforts in reform of the Wajima lacquerware industry, which is named in the "History of Wajima City".
The fifth-generation Kyuko Kirimoto (Taichi's grandfather) restructured their business to focus on wood carving and founded a woodwork workshop in 1929. The workshop specialized in manufacturing complex carved parts for lacquerwares, using mainly the white-bark magnolia tree (Hou in Japanese). Kyuko worked at the workshop from early in the morning until late at night with skilled craftsmen. There is an episode on Kyuko that his concentration was so high, in cold winter, steam was seen coming out from his head.
The sixth-generation Toshihei (son of Kyuko, Taichi's father), built a wood carving factory not only for lacquerwares but expanded their capability for a wide variety of furniture manufacturing. Toshihei leads the workshop to become one of the best woodwork specialists in Wajima. He passed away in 2015.
The seventh-generation Taichi (current owner), born in 1962, majored in product design at Tsukuba University and started his professional career in 1985 in one of the largest office products manufacturing company Kokuyo Co., Ltd. as a product designer. In 1987 he left the company and returned to Wajima to succeed his family business, at that time run by his father.
Taichi Kirimoto-san with his proud Katakuchi in his hands
Taichi, on entering his family business, started from an apprentice craftsman, lasted for four and a half years, which is the formal path as a lacquerware craftsman in Wajima. Then he helped run his father's business by producing wood modeling proposals, design proposals, and overall direction of lacquer productions by combining his expertise.
He eventually expanded the business from the specialty woodwork manufacturing to the complete lacquerware manufacturing, back to their origin, and also expanded the furniture manufacturing.
So for over 150 years, the Kirimoto Family has successfully contributed to the tradition of the Wajima lacquerware with their expertise. And now Wajima Kirimoto is at the highest capacity in their history of creation. They have the right capability that stands on the genuine tradition of Wajima lacquerware manufacturing with a capability to propose new ideas in the modern lifestyles in the world of contemporary home interior, by basing the business on natural urushi lacquer. They now have become one of the most famous lacquer work manufactures in Japan.
<The Workshop >
There is plenty of natural light coming in on the second floor of the two stories workshop of Kirimoto in Wajima. They have one vast open floor dedicated to detailed woodwork by hand. Several craftsmen are working on multiple products each in their own way, but very efficiently.
Since wood carving is their expertise you would observe many unique carving tools and jigs they make for themselves. Kirimoto would design and prepare those tools and jigs based on the design of the item and the volume of the order.
You will be amazed to see how small their carpenter plane called "kanna" is made. Very interestingly, they have very small curved surface kanna, which is very unique even in Japan. They will use the kanna to sculpt to the design surface in less than 0.1mm accuracy. The kanna will create the sharp and smooth finished surface condition of the wood to a microscopic level. Sanding using sandpaper would not work to create the desired wood surface for urushi lacquer to be absorbed in the conduit, and also it could not create sharp enough curvature.
The curved "kanna" to create smooth surface such as a lip of Katakuchi
You will be able to see how detailed and fine work by hands are employed for the creation of the form for each and every piece.
Kirimoto successfully employs many young talented craftsmen, which is rare in the industry and succeeds their tradition.
The quality of the woodwork and the knowledge on wood suited for urushi lacquerware are their strength that stands out not only in Wajima but in Japan.
Taichi showing the hand-carved wood core lip part of the Katakuchi
Taichi also expanded the lacquer furniture business to the next level with contemporary Japanese design with various urushi lacquer techniques. One such example is the large red and chocolate-colored counters of CHOCOLAT boutique Tokyo in Hilton Tokyo (2008), which is absolutely gorgeous and even sensual, with cloth textures lacquered.
One of his signature furniture work is in the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo Japanese Kaiseki Restaurant "Hinokizaka" (2014). His urushi lacquer work creations (sushi counter table, entrance podium) are shining in the true contemporary interior design with genuine Japanese traditional design. We hope you would have a chance to actually see them.
With his open personality, strong enthusiasm to the urushi lacquer and highly active character, he has been lecturing in schools, universities and many business forums all over Japan and has been a current biggest advocate for Wajima lacquerware industry.
Kogei Styling supports Taichi's enthusiasm and efforts towards the preservation and the creation of Wajima lacquerware and proudly presents his works especially to our overseas customers.