The Kiso area in Nagano Prefecture is one of the most popular summer resorts in Japan with beautiful forests and crystal clear streams. This place is also renowned for the production of Kiso lacquerware. Maruyoshi Kosaka Co., Ltd. was founded in the Kiso area in 1945. Certified as a traditional craftsman, Mr. Yasuto Kosaka who is the second-generation of the family had been making low tables with lacquer coating using “roiro nuri”, a painting technique which gives a smooth and rich polish to the surface to the extend that it looks like a mirror. However, he faced a decreasing demand for Japanese-style furniture due to the change in lifestyle and started to look for a way to develop new products. During the process of planning, he recalled the difficulty to fix lacquer on glass plate for tables which he had struggled with and conceived an idea of a product made by a combination of lacquer and glass. With the cooperation of the Industrial Research Institute of Nagano Prefecture, he finally achieved a technique to fix lacquer on glass.
Urushi-glass uniquely expresses the beautiful colors of lacquer which can be seen through the transparent glass. Maruyoshi Kosaka created their own colors and carefully paints them on the glass with a brush one line at a time. Deep concentration is needed for this technique and the glassware with the elaborate hand painted decoration shows the elegance. Also, compared to wooden lacquerware that requires delicate care, urushi-glass is robust and suitable for daily use as it can be used with metal cutlery.
After establishing “Suitouyo”, a brand of urushi-glass in 1994, they forged ahead to develop another urushi-glassware brand, “hyakushiki” in 2013 through the collaboration with an independent designer. This series of tableware was inspired by the kaleidoscope. Multiple colors of lacquer can be seen through the glass which gave traditional lacquerware a new image and making it suitable to be use on dining tables around the world. In 2017, Mr. Reo Kosaka who held the license of “1st grade Certified Skilled Professional of Furniture Making” assumed the role as the third president and they are continuing their effort in expanding the Kiso brand globally.