• Marusan Shikki Image
  • Marusan Shikki Image
  • Marusan Shikki Image

About Marusan Shikki

Kiyonosuke Aoyanagi studied lacquerworking in the town of Masuzawa, which has since been submerged by the construction of the Isawa Dam.
In the year 1904, he founded the Marusansikki Workshop in his home town of Surisawa.
Kiyonosuke’s craft has since been passed down to Marusansikki’s second generation master, Seiichi, third generation master Shinzaburo, and the current fourth generation master Ichiro.
The company was then incorporated as Marusansikki, Ltd, in 1979.
The philosophy of Marsuansikki has always been, simply, “make good products.” That philosophy has been rigidly followed for one hundred years, and even today, its artisans continue to create sturdy, beautiful, handmade artisanal lacquerware.
Kiyonosuke Aoyanagi establishes Marusansikki Workshop
The workshop is incorporated as Marsuansikki, Ltd.
Received a chairman of the board prize at Iwate Specialty Products Contest
*Exhibits - Urushi Fuji ・ Urushi Akafuji ・ Urushi Sakura


Artifact Information

Artifact NameHidehira-nuri : Lacquerware
History Hidehira-nuri is the symbol of Hiraizumi culture, which has been a standard of artisinal beauty for 1,200 years.
The name “Hidehira-nuri,” or “Hidehira painting,” comes from the Hidehira bowls that have been used at the Chusonji Temple and its surrounding area for centuries.
Hidehira bowls are large nesting bowl trios known for their patterns.
The bowls’ unique appearance is marked by the cloud image painted on its upper portion, the interspersed images of plants and auspicious patterns, and the affixed gold leaf.
The bowls were first commissioned from Kyoto artisans by Hidehira Fujiwara during the construction of the Konjikido Golden Hall.
Both Gentaku Otsuki’s Bansui Manso and Mayori Kurokawa’s industrial arts documents, written during the Kansei Period (1789-1801), mention Hidehira bowls as being highly prized by the great tea masters of Edo.
From the 19th century until the 1950s, Masuzawa, the village just behind the Chusonji Temple on the Koromo River, served as a lacquerware commune.
In the year 1985, Hidehira-nuri was declared a traditional craft in accordance with Japanese heritage laws, and has been developing very swiftly ever since.

The Traditional Craftsman Profile

Craftsman Name
Craftsman Hideko AoyagiHideko Aoyagi
One of the few remaining lacquerware painting artisans in Iwate Prefecture still passing on her well-honed skills.
Her lacquerware-painted wineglass “Akafuji” won the Omotenashi Selection 2014 award
Her “Yozora,” won a special award at the 46th Iwate Prefecture Applied Fine Arts Expo.

"Yozora," won a special award

Manufacturing Method

1. Rough cutting
Working view Sape the wood into a bowl while checking for shape, roundness, thickness, and other attributes that will reflect on the vessel’s ability to take on lacquer and be used comfortably.
2. Creating the foundation
Working view The base wood is painted with raw lacquer sap.
*Painting the sap on firmly with a brush and letting it absorb into the wood, increases water resistance and guard against warping.
3. Clothing
Working view Hemp or cotton is affixed to thin or rough portions of the wood to provide extra reinforcement.
*These cloth strips are applied with an adhesive made from ground rice and water.
4. Weave masking
Working view Once the adhesive has dried, sawdust is applied to the cloth to mask the weave.
*The sawdust is applied through firm rubbing with a spatula, then sanded after drying.
5. Application of sawdust
Working view *A spatula is used to paint on a mixture of clay and lacquer, adding more thickness. After drying, the surface is sanded with a flat whetstone.
6. Touch-up powdering
Working view *Sawdust powder with the same method as the base, it is applied to the entire surface, dried, then sanded.
7. Powder affixing
Working view *Another round of sanding allows lacquer to stick better when later applied, and completing the process of foundation building.
8. Undercoating/ Midcoating
Working view A brush is used to spread a thin layer of undercoat lacquer out evenly in many different directions.
9. Polishing
Working view After undercoating and midcoating, the lacquer is dried and then submerged in polishing charcoal and water while polished.
*Polishing will smooth irregularities in the paint layer, allowing the layers of paint lacquer to better adhere.
10. Stenciling
Working view Pigment is painted onto the back of a piece of washi (Japanese paper) drawn with a pattern, and then transferred to thelacquerware.
11. Cloud painting
Working view *In Hidehira-nuri, a vermillion lacquer base is painted broadly on the areas where gold leaf is to be applied. This painted area is called “the cloud.”
12. Leaf application
Working view The lacquerware is put in a “furo” and allowed to half-dry, at which point, the gold leaf is applied.
13. Overpainting
Working view *The final patterns are drawn on with a mixture of lacquer and pigment.
14. Leaf affixing
Working view Lacquer sap is applied to a piece of cotton and rubbed on to the gold leaf portions, covering them with a thin membrane of lacquer.
*This will prevent wear and tear to the gold leaf, and provide it with a brilliant luster.

Lacquer paintings

Lacquer painting is a traditional skill used in Hidehira-nuri.
Various pigments are added to lacquer, which is painted directly on to the work.
The force of the brush adds movement and lyricism to the drawings on the lacquerware. To paint the plants and cloud patterns used in Hidehira-nuri requires years of experience.

1. Lacquer drawings are applied one color at a time to the base coat and allowed to dry. Once half-dried, fine gold leaf is applied.
2. The work is put into a special lacquerware drying room called a “furo.”

Once the work is completely dried, it’s finished. *This is where the high levels of concentration and attention to detail of an artisan are required.
Lacquer paintings

For cleaning and storage

1.New lacquerware products should be rinsed in lukewarm water, then wiped with a dry cloth. Then, they should twice be wiped with a cloth covered in a small amount of vinegar and left to dry in a well ventilated area. *Once this is finished, the product is ready to use.

2. To preserve the product’s luster, do not scrub.  Use a soft cloth to remove any dust. When washing, use soapy water and then dry with a soft cloth. / Avoid the use of hot water. *Avoid the use of harsh cleaning tools such as scrubbing brushes or sponges. / Avoid the use of polishing powders (cleansers, etc) when washing.

3. Avoid placing the work in direct sunlight. This can alter the product’s shape or color.  *Be especially cautious with vermillion paints.

4. Avoid prolonged exposure to warm water after use. / Wash immediately, wipe with a soft, damp cloth, then wipe again with a dry cloth.
For cleaning and storage

Location & Address

■ Marusan Shikki

Home page Signboard
Postal code
10 Surisawa Tanbasaki Daito-cho Ichinoseki Iwate
Business hours
9:00 - 18:00
All year around
Tryout for Urushi painting
A reservation is required in one week advance (Up to 10 people)
Each person - JPY1,000