Between elegance and refinement
Located in the heart of Kyoto, the Zohiko store has been offering lacquers of exceptional quality for more than 350 years. Made of wood, lacquer, gold and accessible to all budgets, these objects are perfect memories of a stay in the former Japanese capital.
A store steeped in history
Founded in Kyoto in 1661 under the name of Zoge-ya (literally "ivory store"), the Zohiko house takes its current name and fame from the craftsman Hikobei who excelled in the art of maki-e ( technique of decoration of lacquers based on gold or silver leaf ). Impressed by his know-how and in particular by a screen he had made, the inhabitants of Kyoto began to use the word "Zohiko", composed of the first character of Zo ge-ya and the first character of Hiko bei to talk about his works. It is under this name that Kyoto's oldest lacquer shop continues to thrive today.
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A unique style
Kyoto lacquers are particularly renowned for their finesse and refinement , due to the very fine pieces of wood used for their manufacture, the many layers of lacquer that cover them and their finish which uses maki-e as a technique for decorating lacquers. .
The maki-e decorations are made in three stages . We first draw a sketch of the desired design on a very thin paper. The drawing is then ironed with lacquer or natural pigments and then applied to the lacquer to be decorated in order to transfer it there. We can then finally proceed to the decoration of the object with gold or silver leaf .
There are 3 main maki-e techniques , takamaki-e , which gives a relief effect to the metal layer, hiramaki-e , without relief, and togidashi maki-e , which consists of alternating layers of lacquer and the layers of metal in order to play on the difference in depth between the metal particles.
These different techniques give a style that is both unique and delicate to the lacquers of Kyoto, and more particularly to those of Zohiko, which are among the most appreciated in the world .
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For all scholarships...
Despite the fact that Kyoto lacquers are known for their rather high prices, you won't need to spend a fortune to leave with a small souvenir of your visit to Zohiko . While some products are indeed very expensive, the price range is quite wide and you can still make some great finds there at reasonable prices , especially among the trays, the least expensive of which are just under €30.
To discover: Cheap travel in Kyoto
... and all tastes
Even if you don't plan to buy, Zohiko remains an unmissable visit for lovers of beautiful objects, as the elegance and refinement of the lacquers sold there give the shop the look of a museum . The second floor of the building also houses a gallery where real masterpieces are exhibited, testifying to the exceptional technical mastery of Kyoto craftsmen . Failing to buy a hairspray, you can therefore admire this collection which is really worth a look for the modest sum of 300 yen (2.35€).
See also: Museums & galleries in Kyoto
Address, timetable & access
TimetableAbout ten minutes on foot from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae (Tozai line) and Jingu Marutamachi (Keihan line) stations. About fifteen minutes on foot from Marutamachi station (Karasuma line).
PriceThe price range is quite wide with items for all budgets. Count at least 3,000 yen (25€) for a tray. Access to the gallery on the 1st floor costs 300 yen (2.35€).
AccessOpen daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on public holidays.