We hope you will find these reference volumes useful as you learn about Japanese art.

Creativity Within Tradition

Iwasawa Oriental Arts is pleased to present a digital publication on Japanese lacquered arts centered on the tradition of 写 utsushi and an exhibition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the gallery. This project embodies the strong motivation to present the true nature of creativity within tradition, which is deeply embedded in Japanese culture. The digital publication will utilize the latest technology in digital media and serve as a vehicle to educate a wider audience on the importance and soul of utsushi.

This book is being offered as a free research resource to the public and is a way to express our gratitude to society for their support of Iwasawa Oriental Art over the last 30 years.

Download book as PDF

Download from iTunes, to read on your iPad with iBooks or on your computer with iTunes.

写 – What is Utsushi?

An attribute of the Japanese tradition of inspiration, in which contemporary artists to emulate the forms, aesthetics, and spirit observed in the work of past artisans. Learn more at Wikipedia.

“In doing Utsushi of a classic piece, I feel it is the way to understand its essence. If one does not possess the level of skill that can surpass the original object, however, one cannot produce a proper work of Utsushi”— Maehata Gaho古典を写す事が、すなわち奥義を究める道であると考えます。本歌に勝る技量がなければ、きちんとした写しはできません” 前端雅峯

What is Urushi?

Part I


  • The Beginning of Urushi
  • The Urushi Tree
  • The Range of the Urushi Tree
  • The Harvest of Urushi
  • The components of Urushi
  • The Properties of Urushi
  • The Cautions of Urushi
  • Other Uses of Urushi
  • The Purification of Urushi
  • The Varieties of Urushi
  • The Creation of Urushi Objects

Part II

The Creation of Urushi Objects

  • The Core
  • The Foundation
  • Lacquer
  • Decoration (makie or lacquer painting)

 PDF Books

View an introductory presentation about Urushi.