About Tenun

When you think of lacquerware, you probably imagine a glossy, polished surface.

In lacquering there is a process is called "charcoal polishing” (sumitogi). It involves applying lacquer and polishing it with charcoal several times over. It might sound surprising to grind down the coating that was just applied but this is a very important process increases the strength of the urushi.

The unique texture of the restrained luster, the quietness and beauty born from the sumitogi process is like no other. This beauty does not arise from a desire to stand out, but rediscovered by a change of perspective.

Sumitogi is the embodiment of the Tenun concept devised by Keikou Nishimura Urushi Studio and supervised by Yoko Nishimura in Kyoto. Born from the idea of less is more.
We are seeking to transcend the traditional concept of urushi and to find a universal form that can be used today.
We have created a range of urushi that can be used in everyday life and for special occasions. We hope you will enjoy them for many years to come.

The Keikou Nishimura Urushi Studio has been passing down the skills of lacquering for three generations. At Tenun, we will continue this tradition of excellence by producing all of our urushi piece in house, from the wooden shaping to the lacquering process. This allows us to nurture craftspeople who will carry on the tradition, and to contribute to the continuation and development of Kyoto's craft industry.We also want to contribute to the protection and nurturing of forests from where we source our wood. In doing so, we can restore craft to its place in the cycle of nature.

Keikou Nishimura Urushi Studio

About urushi

Urushi refers to a type of lacquer made from the sap of the urushi tree. It is a completely natural and sustainable material that produces a finish that is gentle to the touch while also being durable and versatile. 

About the charcoal polishing technique

The wood, which is the foundation of each piece, is delicately and thinly whittled and shaped on the lathe in order to achieve a finish that embodies the high level of craftsmanship for which Kyoto has long been renowned.
The urushi is then applied directly to the wood, without the use of a primer coat, to increase its strength and prevent peeling, cracking and chipping.
The lacquering process is interrupted by the sharpening process using charcoal and other tools. This is followed by a final coat, which is the equivalent of a normal top coat, and then the surface is sharpened again.
The whole process is carefully carried out by craftspeople.

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Urushi / lacquer
Hinoki / Japanese cypress
Keyaki / zelkova


Keikou Nishimura Urushi Studio

Wood shaping
Dishes: Keikou Nishimura Urushi Studio 
Cutlery: Hiroshi Tawa


Photography: Makoto Ito, Yasushi Ichikawa
Food: Megumi Shishikura