Talks on kimono design and Japanese lacquer

yuzen kimono

As part of Asian Art in London, the RCA hosted presentations by two outstanding practitioners of Japanese traditional arts, Moriguchi Kunihiko and Murose Kazumi, both Japanese Living National Treasures.  Moriguchi designs yuzen textiles, using a resist-dyeing technique that became popular in the 17th century.  He is identified particularly with geometric patterns that change subtly from one end of the design to the other.  A video was shown that traced the development of a single piece, a stunning kimono with triangles of onyx black, white and yellow.  Murose produces maki-e (“sprinkled picture”) lacquer pieces of all kinds, ranging in size from tiny boxes to a frieze for a railway station, 1.5m high and 4m long.  His illuminating talk explored the origins and properties of urushi (the basic lacquer substance) and the different steps in maki-e technique: an exquisite box with a design of foliage and flowers took six months to complete.

Presentations by Japanese Living National Treasures
Royal College of Art, London
1 November 2013

The presentations accompany the exhibition Four Living National Treasures of Japan at The Fine Art Society.

Above: Formal kimono by Moriguchi Kunihiko, 2012. Yuzen dyed silk. Image: Nihon Kogeikai at:

Toshiba Lectures 2012: Nicole Rousmaniere on Japanese Porcelain


It was “Asian Art in London” back in November and although I wasn’t able to take full advantage, I did attend two of the Toshiba Lectures by Nicole Rousmaniere on “Japanese Porcelain, A four hundred year history”.  She explored the Japanese enthusiasm for Chinese wares in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the trade patterns whereby metals such as silver were exported from Japan, and the ships returned to Japan filled with ceramics as ballast.  She highlighted the importance of the Nabeshima family in fostering the nascent Japanese porcelain industry, and the Nabeshimas’ annual gift of Chinese ceramics to the Tokugawa shogunate, with Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-51) permitting a switch from Chinese to Japanese porcelain.  By the 1680s or 1690s, the Chinese were imitating Japanese styles such as Kakiemon and Imari.  Lively and informative lectures – sorry indeed to miss the third.

Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art 2012: Japanese Porcelain, A four hundred year history
Nicole Rousmaniere:
“Vessels of Influence, China and the birth of porcelain in early modern Japan”, 1 November 2012
“White Gold, Japanese export porcelain and international trade networks”, 8 November 2012

Above: Dish with design of radishes. Edo period (1615–1868). 1650s. Porcelain with underglaze blue, yellow-brown glaze, and overglaze enamels (Hizen ware, Nabeshima type). Width 11.4cm; length 15.9cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, at