• Yosegi Woodcraft's photo

Yosegi Woodcraft


A traditional craft that uses the natural colors of wood to create patterns

Cherry, dogwood, ash, Japanese big-leaf magnolia, bitterwood, the Japanese Judas tree… Yosegi woodcraft combines the slight differences in color particular to these trees to create fine patterns. This is Hakone’s unique traditional craft that creates geometric patterns out of combinations of gentle, natural wood colors. It has a long history, originating with NiheiIshikawa, a craftsman who lived during the Edo period. The patterns have increased over the years along with more advanced techniques, becoming a work of art that has been carried over to the modern day.

  • Yosegi Woodcraft's photo

How do you open this?! A geometrically-patterned trick box

Although there are a variety of yosegi items, including bowls and small dishes, the most popular are small boxes. The most popular of these is the difficult-to-open “trick box”. This trick box can only be opened using a very specific method. The box is built so that its geometric patterns let you slide a variety of surfaces, the lid opening with a snap when you move them in the right order. This tricky craftsmanship is sure to excite children as well as adults.

  • Yosegi Woodcraft's photo
  • Yosegi Woodcraft's photo

Beautiful patterns born of manual labor

The greatest appeal of yosegi craft is the precise geometric patterns. Let’s take a look at how they are made. First is the base material. Different colored woods are combined and then bound, and small parts are fit together. When these are thinly sliced, a patterned piece is completed. These parts are then joined to create a larger pattern. It is said that there are about 60 basic patterns, but the way they are combined results in an endless array of expression. This painstaking manual labor results in a deep beauty.

  • Yosegi Woodcraft's photo
  • Yosegi Woodcraft's photo

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