About Tsutsumi Asakichi Urushi Shop

Japanese Culture and urushi
Asakichi Tsutsumi urushiShop Roots

Urushi has been a part of Japanese life since the Jomon period, some 10,000 years ago.
Since then the urushi industry has passed through various periods, reaching its peak in the Edo period (1603~1867).
From the middle of the Edo period, imported urushi from Burma and other countries began to enter the country through the port of Nagasaki, and the total amount of urushi used, domestically produced and imported, came to approximately 2,000 tonnes per year.
However, in the Taisho era (1912-1926), the production of domestic urushi declined sharply.
Furnishings and armour for the feudal lords became unnecessary, and the policy of encouraging urushi production was abolished.
At the same time, lacquerware became popular in the town as a typical Japanese craft.

Tsutsumi Asakichi Shoten founded

1909
Asakichi Tsutsumi I finished his apprenticeship and founded Tsutsumi Asakichi Shoten.
The company refined urushi by hand and machine, sold filter paper, and developed foil-pressed urushi.

Pre-war

In the early Showa period, domestic urushiproduction fell to just 50 tonnes per year
Imports increased and urushioverall use exceeded 2000 tonnes in 1936.

Wartime

The war caused a sharp decrease in imports.
Urushi was used by the military as a rust-preventive paint, and the refining of urushi was restricted by the government, forcing Tsutsumi Asakichi Shoten to close its business.

Post-war

Demand for lacquerware increased with the high economic growth. Most of this urushi was imported. 1950 Shigeru Tsutsumi (2nd generation) started work.

1975
Urushi imports amounted to 500 tonnes per year.
1983
Tsutsumi Asakichi Lacquer Shop established.
Development of synthetic paints.
1950
Paint manufacturers began selling cashew resin paint, known as synthetic lacquer, which spread rapidly. The suspension of imports of raw urushi from China led to a temporary increase in the domestic production of urushi however, partly due to the spread of synthetic paints this increase was short-lived.
1976
Takashi Tsutsumi III starts work
Expanding the business by increasing the range of products handled to meet the needs
Expanding foil stamping urushinationwide
Post-economic bubble
1999
Kourin urushi and Sakikake urushi developed
2003
Domestic kourin urushi used for the restoration of national treasures and important cultural properties.
2007
Decision made to use all domestic urushi for the Nikko Toshogu shrine.
Tsutsumi Asakichi Lacquer Shop now refines 65-70% of domestic urushi.
2000
Sales of foil-pressed lacquer decreased due to an increase in the number of similar synthetic paints.
2004
Takuya Tsutsumi (fourth generation) joined the company.
Urushi imports fall to 100 tonnes and the industry slumps.

Development of products such as glass urushi, Qualia coating, colour clear urushi, abrasives for Sanwa urushi work, Asakichi grinding stones, etc.

New Steps

Pursuing a stable supply and quality of urushi while bringing urushi to a wider audience.

As the decline of the urushi industry became apparent, the company started activities to convey the unique appeal of urushi as a natural material, in order to preserve urushi and the surrounding culture.

2015
The Agency for Cultural Affairs issued a notification that restoration of national treasures and important cultural properties should use only domestic urushi.
2017
'Beyond Tradition' project launched.
2016
Launch of the 'Urushi no Ippo' project.
2019
Start of the Forest of Craft project, a centre for sustainable craftsmanship.

4th generation, Takuya Tsutsumi establishes the company Perspective with co-founder Sachiko Takamuro. In collaboration with the company, it aims to create a cycle-based manufacturing system that enriches the region, by growing urushi trees and other trees that will be used as craft materials.

COVID-19 disaster

2020
Outbreak of a new type of coronavirus infection.
Kintsugi coffrets, fuki-urushi kits and collaborative products with other industries are launched as products to enhance time spent at home.

April 2022
WOOD SURFBOARD workshop completed in Keihoku.
The Urushi Surf Project, which connects the mountains, the town and the sea launched.
2016
Launch of the 'Urushi no Ippo' project.