Our Story

Urushi tree

Urushi is the sap of the poison oak tree.
It is a precious gift of nature that can only be collected from a mature tree 10-15 years old.
Only about one milk bottle can be extracted.

We plant the trees, and receive the sap when they are grown.
If this cycle is not broken, urushi will not be depleted.

We receive the sap from the scrapers, refine it, and deliver it to
urushi artists and other craftspeople.
We want to share what we feel through this work with
many people.

Black and white photograph of Asakichi Tsutsumi I.

'Not a drop of urushi should be wasted.'

This phrase, which Asakichi I always used to say, expresses his respect for the material urushiand his gratitude for being able to make a living thanks to urushi. Even now, 114 years after the company's founding, it is still passed down as a company motto.

In the past, we urushishops only focused on providing a stable supply of quality urushi.

However, times have changed, and in today's society, urushiis in decline.

urushiWhen the art and crafts were with us in our daily lives, the artisans who made urushivessels were busy with their work. They would pile up tubs on their bicycles and go around making deliveries so as not to run out urushiof each workshop. At that time, there was no need or time to think about the future. Then came the postwar period of rapid economic growth, the bursting of the bubble economy, and the IT revolution.

As the demand for cheap, fast, and convenient things grew, urushiand crafts disappeared from our daily lives. Mass production, mass consumption, and disposable products are the norm. urushiIn today's world, where values have become the opposite of what they were in the past, it is no longer possible to imagine what the future will look like 10 years from now. It was obvious that they could not continue their business by simply waiting for orders as they had done in the past.

Diagram of the reduction of urushi from 500t to 30t over 50 years.

Even from about 40 years ago, when we were born, to the present day, the domestic demand for urushihas been declining at a frightening rate. urushiThe shop works between the mountains and the users. urushiThe reduced use of urushitrees growing in the mountains, urushiscrapers and even the tools they use are in dire straits. Behind the rapid advances in technology, the earth is scarred and urushiand traditional crafts are in decline.

If this continues, the culture of urushi will disappear.

What can we, as an urushi shop, do now? First of all, we decided to start by communicating:
The appeal of urushi as a material.
The sad state of affairs we are in.

As we refine urushi everyday, we are fascinated by its ever-changing beauty and characteristics as a material.

Children eating from a bowl of lacquer.

The urushiunique paint film, which hardens while holding moisture,
becomes familiar with human skin and grows into a tasteful sheen the more it is used.
It is loved and cherished.
Even if it is damaged after use, it can be repaired and
used and passed on from generation to generation.

Respect ancestors.
Join hands.
Feel the materials with all five senses.
This is a Japanese way of life that was commonplace in the past.

If we remain passive, nothing will change.
We have to move forward.
In 2016, we started " Urushi no Ippo".

Group photograph of kindergarten children holding lacquer bowls.

Thanks to you, we had a great response.
I was happy.
The media picked up on it, and requests to give lectures increased.
But then I realised that most of the responses were from people involved in urushiand crafts.
I want people outside that circle, who have never been exposed to urushi, to know about urushi.

We want to tell more people, across countries and generations about urushi

In 2019, the project BEYOND TRADITIONwas launched to transmit the new values and possibilities ofurushi.

We wanted to change the image of urushi as 'luxurious, difficult to handle' and 'special'. Like jeans or leather goods, we want people to enjoy the taste that comes from using it. We wanted to convey the appeal of urushiin a way that would resonate with young people. urushiis a sustainable, natural material that is friendly to people and the planet. urushiWe also want people to be interested in environmental issues by learning about

When we talked about these thoughts, people in Japan and around the world sympathised with us. Little by little we began to realise the new potential of urushi. As we continued, the number of friends who cooperated with us increased.

We want to restore the practice of making to its place in nature’s cycle and expand the possibilities of craft.

Now we are facing something big: crafts.
urushiWe want to create a recycling-oriented manufacturing base and convey the appeal of various craft materials based on the
We plant, grow and create trees, imagining what they will be like in 10 or 15 years' time.
We want to realise sustainable forestation and manufacturing together with local communities, governments, educational institutions and companies.
We have named our activities for this purpose " Forest of Craft " and set out to achieve our big goal.

To pass on urushi culture and a clean planet to the children of the next generation.