KURONO presents our newest and most intricate tamenuri maki-e urushi watch box - based on an original ukiyo-e artwork, 'Hawk, Pine, and the Rising Sun -

日の出に松に鷹' from 1830 in our private collection by Utagawa Hiroshige.  

The base of the box is finished in our classic akane-tamenuri urushi method - where layers of red urushi (akane-urushi) are first applied by hand, followed by multiple layers of translucent black-suki urushi applied over the red base. While the box looks black, where the suki-urushi is the thinnest at the edges, the akane-urushi color peeks out and over time the red will become more vibrant.


An intricate maki-e then details a hawk perched on a pine tree branch against a vibrant rising sun in the background. Leveraging primarily gold, bronze and silver - the virtuosity of Hiroshige's art can be seen throughout such as in the fine detailing of the feathers of the hawk and the intensity of its eyes.

This artwork by Hiroshige reveals important auspicious symbols - with 初日の出 Hatsuhinode - the first sunrise of the year - such as the prominent Hawk. In the background; the 松-pine tree which represents steadfast longevity is captured. The hawk 鷹, as one of the important elements celebrating 初夢 Hatsuyume - the first dream in the New Year - is also an ancient symbol of strength, speed and fortunes rising.

"初日の出 国も 際はなかり 鳧"

The main artistic elements in the maki-e - the hawk, the pine, and the rising sun - are significant embodiments tied together by Hiroshige's handwritten poem: "初日の出 国も 際はなかり 鳧” which is loosely translated as: "At the first sunrise of the year, there are no borders." This poignant poem deserves a little more attention, and especially so in these times.

When Hiroshige created this artwork in 1830s, Japan was in Sakoku 鎖国 - an inward-looking isolationist policy. Living through this period of national solitude, Hiroshige’s poem in this artwork is widely interpreted by scholars as his personal longing for the reopening of his country to the outside world.

“While watching the sunrise of the New Year’s Day, he wished for opening the country to the outside world - no borders - and with the strength of hawk and a peace as resilient as the Japanese pine tree. This was a hark back to the first Tokugawa shogunate -德川家康 - where Ieyasu Tokugawa gave the Edo period internal peace, political stability and economic growth." 



KURONO presents our newest and most intricate tamenuri maki-e urushi watch box - based on an original ukiyo-e artwork, 'Hawk, Pine, and the Rising Sun -

日の出に松に鷹' from 1830 in our private collection by Utagawa Hiroshige. 

  • Dimensions: 265mm x 80mm x 35mm
  • Single watch box 
  • Wood exterior with felt interior
  • Two-part box (lid & base)
  • Red akane-urushi base, with suki-urushi layers applied over it
  • Handmade in Kanazawa
  • Limited to 500 pieces
  • Price: JPY 43,500 (US$395)

December 2021: 200 pieces before Christmas [SOLD OUT]
January 2022 through March 2022: 100 pieces per month 
(Price excludes shipping and any applicable taxes in your country)

NB: At least 6 months is required for the urushi layers to be cured to our standard of quality. 


Maki-e (蒔絵) - literally meaning sprinkled picture - is an art technique unique to Japan. It is a form of Japanese lacquer painting where the design is sprinkled with gold or silver powder and has, for the longest time, been held in high recognition and renowned for its exquisite beauty and artistry. The production of maki-e requires multiple processes, starting from lacquering, drawing, sprinkling and finally, polishing. 

Originating in the Heian period (794-1185), maki-e objects were cherished by the highest of social classes - Court nobles, royal families and military leaders incorporated maki-e objects into their daily lives as a symbol of power. There was an element of hidden elegance with maki-e, it was neither flashy nor blatant, yet held a compelling aura of grandeur to them. Minuscule details were elaborate and immaculately executed, emphasizing its classiness and sophistication, thus its appreciation by only the most prestigious. Maki-e can be regarded as the epitome of complexity, in simplicity. The oldest Maki-e in existence now is the ornamentation on the sheath of the Kara-tachi sword treasured by Emperor Shomu (701AD – 756AD).

The technique used on the Kurono box is ‘kaga maki-e’ – which is similar to that used by Kokusai on Namiki’s Nippon Art fountain pen series. By balancing hand silk-screening and hand-painting, the maki-e art is achieved much faster than being fully hand-painted, and significantly reduces the price. The average price for a full maki-e fountain pen is about JPY1,000,000. 


Urushi cures naturally through a process of oxidation and polymerization into a material with remarkable properties for a natural substance. 


As the urushi lacquer hardens, it absorbs moisture from the air. This makes the lacquered surface perpetually shiny and slick. It also makes it very durable and able to withstand erosion from water, acids, alkalis, alcohol, and changes in temperature, which is the main reason lacquer became an art form to begin with. Over time, urushi will actually become harder and more scratch resistant as the polymerization process continues on even after the initial manufacture. 

Of particular renown in Urushi handicraft is the city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, the former Kaga Domain. Maeda Toshitsune, the third feudal lord of the Kaga Domain who lived through the final phase of the turbulent Sengoku period and into the Edo era, summoned renowned craftsmen of all trades from across Japan to the region’s Osaikusho workshops. It is said that the techniques employed by the famed Urushi craftsmen brought to Kaga Domain in this way are the origin of today’s Kanazawa lacquerware. Kanazawa continues to give rise to numerous master craftsmen, boasting a unique tradition of Urushi handicraft incorporating samurai culture.


Urushi lacquer is made from the sap of the rhus vernicifera tree. To harvest the sap, a couple of slashes are made in the tree for it to seep out. Once the sap is obtained, it is filtered several times through layers of special paper. The result is a translucent lacquer which color ranges from very light to a dark amber.  


Layers of red urushi (or akane-urushi) are first applied by hand with a horse-hair brush to the hand-sanded wooden base, and then cured in a special cabinet that maintains a very specific and consistent heat and humidity.

Multiple layers of translucent black suki-urushi are then applied over the cured akane-urushi base. While the box looks black - the edges where the suki-urushi is typically the thinnest reveal a bit of red where the base akane-urushi color peeks out. This effect will be amplified over time, exposure and usage - and more of the akane-urushi's red vibrancy will be revealed as the suki-urushi lightens. 

Each layer of urushi that is applied must be cured in this cabinet for a minimum of 24hrs to fully harden. Only then can that layer be sanded before the application of a next layer. After the final layer is cured, the surface is polished and left to time where it will harden even more as it ages.


Tamenuri is an ancient Japanese urushi application technique dating back to the Jomon Period (14,000 to 300 B.C.), and slowly perfected over time from craftsman to craftsman.

On the box, Kuro-Tamenuri is used - a style where you have a solid opaque red urushi base which is then applied with additional layers of of dark translucent suki-urushi on top. This results in a uniquely deep patina which will naturally lighten over time, and slowly reveal the red base beneath as it matures.

Black pigmentation is achieved by the addition of iron, and red pigmentation is brought about by the addition of ferric oxide (Fe2O3) or cinnabar (HgS).


Sunlight - specifically the UV light - will over time lighten the top suki-urushi layer and make it more translucent. Whether you prefer a redder or blacker patina to your box depends on where you display it, and how much natural light you expose it to. 

"... in the still dimmer light of the candle stand, as I gazed at the trays and bowls standing in the shadows cast by that flickering point of flame, I discovered in the gloss of this lacquerware a depth and richness like that of a still, dark pond, a beauty I had not before seen. It had not been mere chance, I realized that our ancestors, having discovered lacquer, had conceived such a fondness for objects finished in it..."   ~ Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, 1933


The Japanese term “ こだわりKodawari “ is a life philosophy and inspirational fuel - it represents the fundamental underpinnings of Japan’s unique Shinto-based culture. It is a unique Japanese term that has no precise English synonym but it refers to the relentless devotion to one’s art, pursuit, or profession just like a urushi master’s craftsmanship. 

This concept is pervasive and seen throughout daily life in Japan. In the same spirit, Hiroshige accessories seek Kodawari Philosophy to the passion, commitment, and attention to detail in every perspective - the humble sincere attention to the tiniest detail in every customer experience. 


Urushi requires patience and determination to yield a beautiful piece of lacquerware. However, unlike mass-produced machine-made products - because the box is handmade, you will find minute imperfections especially as the urushi is hand applied. It will not be perfect although as much care and patience as possible is taken. 

It also takes quite a bit of time to make each box, with an average of 4 months. The inherent and unique nature of urushi is that the longer it is left to cure, the harder and more beautiful it is. Then - on top of just the tamenuri urushi process - add on additional time needed to apply the maki-e design; add another layer of urushi; and finally cure and dry. The total process takes 6 months. 

Cheaper, mass produced lacquerware have very short curing time of days, leaving the workshop the moment it is dry. This makes the urushi surface soft, immature, and dull. But curing it for too long will result in exorbitant prices running into the thousands as you typically see with fine Japanese lacquerware. We find that this curing time is the sweet spot that balances price without compromising on quality.


  • Dimensions: 265mm x 80mm x 35mm
  • Single watch box 
  • Wood exterior with felt interior
  • Two-part box (lid & base)
  • Red akane-urushi base, with suki-urushi layers applied over it
  • Handmade in Kanazawa
  • Limited to 500 pieces

(*this product is for the single-watch box only, and does not include a watch)

Price: JPY 43,500 (US$395)

Delivery: December 2021 through March 2022

(Price excludes shipping & any applicable taxes)