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between #4 Black Aura


Urushi, Acrylic, Photo, Video

Tomoya Ishibashi  Mitsuhiro Kyoden  Kotaro Shima

Yusuke Matsumoto  Masakazu Hirata  Michiko Nishio  Junichiro Horikawa

Toshiyuki Numa  Masaru Mizuochi  Kanako Shintaku  Yuta Hikichi  Tkahisa Hashimoto

Through this project, we challenged ourselves to achieve the harmony of a traditional craft and technology.


The Japanese lacquer Urushi is a natural paint which has been used in Japan in the past 12,000 years. Urushi lacquer can be obtained by refining the sap of the lacquer tree (Urushi-no-ki) and is very valuable as it is possible to collect only about 200 ml of it from a single lacquer tree which grew for over 10-15 years. The sap of the lacquer tree hardens and turns black when it takes in moisture from the air. By repeated polishing and painting, it is possible to achieve a deep shiny color.


In Japan, for a long time Urushi products have been used as everyday life items and accessories and have been widely loved by everyone from the common people to the people of power due to their robustness, scarcity and beauty.


The city of Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture is the place of production of Urushi ware with more than 400 years of history. However, due to changes in lifestyle, we are facing such problems as the shrinking market for traditional craft goods and the lack of successors to craftsmen, so we are seeking new opportunities.​ We collaborated with Urushi craftsmen from this region and conducted a project to rediscover the charm of Urushi from the point of view of technology.

First, we were faced with the question of what the essential charm of Urushi was. We thought that the value of Urushi is in the aesthetic texture which makes the "unrealistic" side of Urushi reminiscent of something "eternal". Urushi gives a strange impression of something that exists here but transcends the time and space.

In order to approach this unusual texture of Urushi, we used 3DCG and 3D modeling technologies to simulate it and then attempted to make a lacquer sculpture by utilizing that data. While going between the real and the virtual layers, we aimed to explore the charm of Urushi and to expand its possibilities. Through this process, we succeeded in expanding the possibilities of this traditional craft in the two following aspects.

① Expansion of the modeling process: using a 3D simulation and a 3D printer we have introduced difficult modeling which is hard to achieve by hand.

② Expansion of the production process: by virtually defining the final design, we have introduced a process enabling various trials and errors for Urushi craft techniques which take time during production.

Project Movie


KOGEI Hackathon 2018, EDGEof (Tokyo) 

Photo by Yuki Tsutsumi


This is a project aiming at reconstruction of a traditional Japanese craft from the viewpoint of modern technology.


By using CG, digital tools, computation and artificial intelligence technologies to approach the history and the process of modeling and production of a traditional Japanese craft from a new perspective, this project aims at bringing new developments to the expressions of the craft and its possibilities for the industry.


In total, twelve members have participated in the project including craftsmen and artists for traditional crafts, AI engineers, designers, photographers and so on.

In the first part of the project which consisted of "between #1, #2, #3", artificial intelligence which is often spoken of in the context of efficiency and of being a marvel was treated as "a neighbor who gives unpredictable answers", and through the cooperation of artificial intelligence with craftmanship, we attempted to expand the formability of the craft of Urushi lacquerware.


In the second part of the project which resulted in "between #4 Black Aura", with a focus on the aesthetic texture of Urushi, we introduced 3D modeling and the 3DCG technology, and along with exploring the charm of Urushi from the viewpoint of technology, we attempted to expand its formability and production process.

KOGEI Hackathon

The Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fiscal 2018

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