Shokawa Hikimono Kiji Is Unique And Simple With Wood Grain


What is “Shokawa Hikimono Kiji”

The most attractive feature of Shokawa Hikimono Kiji is its beautiful grain. Because the raw wood is processed horizontally, the grain patterns vary even when the same piece of wood is cut from the same tree. The craftsmen grind the wood by hand to produce a unique and warm ground wood.

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji is a traditional craft mainly made in Takaoka City, Tonami City, and Nanto City in Toyama Prefecture. Hikimono refers to products made by shaving wood with a wheel, etc. and processing it into bowls, trays, etc. It is said that Shokawa Hikimono Kiji started when people began to process and sell the wood gathered from the lumber transportation business that was once conducted in the Shokawa River. The craftsmen carefully carved natural wood with a wheel, and the beauty of the grain and the texture that develops as the wood is used more and more are highly sought-after.

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji
Source: Shogawa Wood Works Turnery Union

Characteristics of Shokawa Hikimono Kiji

The main materials used for hewn wood are zelkova and tochi. Keyaki is hard and heavy, and has interesting grain patterns. Toki is also hard to deform and is compatible with lacquer, which is why it has long been used as a base for lacquerware. The charm of natural wood is that each wood has its own unique characteristics. Various materials such as Jindai zelkova are now used.

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji is processed with horizontal wood. This means that the ducts run parallel to the vessel, so the annual rings are expressed in various ways. If you hold the product in your hand and look at it, its expression is so varied and different that it is hard to believe that each piece is made of the same wood.

In general, a product is best when it is new, when you get it. After that, it just loses its shine and becomes old. However, Shokawa’s hewn wood products, which are made of wooden materials, become more and more interesting the more you use them. The luster and color tone changes depending on the environment. The older it gets, the more affectionate it becomes. It is the only one of its kind in the world, unique to the person who uses it.

Types of Products

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji are available in two types: polished white wood products and lacquered products. Each has its own charm, but both make the most of the grain of the wood and value the warmth of the wood. The color of white wooden products changes over time as they are exposed to air. Products that have been wiped with lacquer have a unique deep color tone that brings the wooden grain back to life.

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji
Source: Shogawa Wood Works Turnery Union

Historical Background

Shokawa Hikimono Kiji was first made in the driftwood business around 1570. The wood was transported along the Shokawa River and collected at a lumber yard located in Aoshima, Shokawa-cho. This project made Shokawa the largest lumber accumulation area in the Hokuriku region. In Shonai-cho, where the lumber industry flourished in this way, a craftsman named Echigoya Seiji opened a workshop for rocro crocheting around 1860, which was the beginning of Shokawa Hikimono Wooden Craft.

Production of Shokawa Hikimono Kiji began at the end of the Edo period (1603-1868) and further developed during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The number of people who prepared bowls for the Buddhist memorial service called “Houonkou” increased. As demand increased, the number of specialized craftsmen called “kijiji-shi” also increased.

In recognition of the skills and history of these craftsmen, Shokawa Hikimono Kiji was recognized as a traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1978. Shokawa-cho merged with Tonami City in 2004 and is still one of the leading producers of Shokawa Hikimono Wooden Articles in Japan along with Takaoka City and Nanto City.

wood grain in Japan
Source: Shogawa Onsen

Manufacturing Method & Process of Shokawa Hikimono Kiji

1.Genboku (raw wood)

The main woods used for Shokawa Hikimono are zelkova and Tochi. The reason for Zelkova is that it is hard, solid, and has beautiful grain, while tochi is used because it is compatible with lacquer and is not easily deformed. In recent years, the use of other woods such as mulberry and Japanese pagoda tree has been increasing.

2. Lumber

Sawing is the process of cutting lumber into boards according to the thickness of the product to be made. Lumber milling is not done in the workshop, but is mainly outsourced to sawmills.

3. Stacking

The lumber is piled up and exposed to the elements to dry naturally. The drying period is from six months to a year. The natural drying process removes the starch from the lumber and makes the lumber stronger and less prone to deformation.

4. Wood Chopping

Mokkiri is the process of cutting wood to the size of the product to be made. First, the surface of the wood is checked, and a pattern is copied to avoid cracks and knots. This is a process that requires many years of experience and a keen sense of feeling. Next, a circular saw is used to cut the wood to approximately the same size as the pattern.

5. Rough sawing

Since the wood is only cut to a rough size with a circular saw, it is generally square. In the roughing process, we use a wheel and a planer to shave out the entire piece and shape it roughly.

6. Drying

The rough sawn lumber is stacked at intervals in the drying room. Thermal power drying is used at Shokawa Hikimono Wood. Once dried, the wood is dried until the moisture content of the wood is reduced to about 8%. The next process is called “drying back. The wood is removed from the drying room and exposed to the open air for two weeks to reach a moisture content of about 12%. This drying process is an important step in correcting any deviations in the wood.

7. Finishing

In the finishing process, the wood is again shaved and shaped using a wheel and a planer. In Shokawa hewn wood, finishing is done from the outside. The various types of knives used in the finishing process also have their own characteristics.

First, a thicker blade is used to roughly shave and shape the piece, and then a thinner blade is used to smooth the surface. The characteristic of Shokawa hewn wood is to shave the surface all at once in order to create natural curves. After shaving, the surface is further smoothed with sandpaper as a finishing touch.

8. Fuki Urushi Lacquer

The process of making a white wood base ends with the process of scraping, but when painting, a further process called Fuki-Urushi-nuri (lacquering) is required. In this process, raw lacquer is applied in several coats using a potter’s wheel to bring out the gloss and luster of the piece.


Each product is handcrafted by artisans, and the beauty of the grain of the original wood, which takes advantage of the shape of the annual rings, is combined with long-lasting durability. We hope you will enjoy the presence of our products by actually seeing and touching them.

Ecchu Japanese Paper

 1                          5

Let's share this post !