Kenichi Fujii crafting at the Fujii Works workshop in Ono, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

A Look at Japanese Woodwork Studio Fujii Works

About Fujii Works

Fujii Works consists of husband and wife team Kenichi and Minako Fujii. Kenichi, born 1975 in Kakogawa, and his wife Minako, born 1981 in Hunan, both learnt under masters in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture.

In 2011 they began producing under the name ‘Fujii Works’ in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture and have since gone on to produce beautiful pieces of functional art using lacquer and wood in combination.

Every item Fujii Works create takes craft to the point of artistry, the result of years of dedication to this age old technique of applying lacquer to wooden vessels.

Photography: Issei Kashiwagi

Introduction

Ono City in Hyogo Prefecture is sometimes known as Soroban no Machi, translated as Abacus City in English. This area has been a major production centre for abacuses for many centuries now, known for their use of high quality wood and exceptional craftsmanship.

Visiting the workshop of Fujii Works in Ono City, you can see some of this woodworking prowess from the local area being carried forward in to their own work. Their house and workshop, both situated next to each other, are quiet in surrounding and offer a simplicity that matches the functional works of art that they produce inside their studio.

Kenichi Fujii starts by cutting the wood to size, later using the lathe before his his wife, Minako, treats the objects with various oils and lacquer. The lacquer, a natural liquid extracted from the Urushi tree, is painstakingly applied in numerous layers on to the vessels, waiting for each to dry before repeating the process and adding a new layer. Minako checks the humidity on a regular basis, making sure the lacquer and wood dry at a similar rate to one another.

To give you a better idea and appreciation for their work we asked talented Japanese photographer Issei Kashiwagi to photograph them at their studio in Ono. What’s come of it is one of our best features to date, guiding us through many of the processes that they would go through in the studio on a daily basis. We’re really in awe of their work and hope you are too. If you’re interested in purchasing some of their crafted objects, we have a considered selection available to purchase in the shop. Enjoy.

Kenichi Fujii at the Fujii Works workshop in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.
Drill bits used to drill out holes in the wood.
Kenichi turns a hole in the back of another blank, this will be used to attach to the lathe.

Kenichi Fujii drills a hole in the back of a blank piece of wood, this will be used to attach to the lathe so that he can turn the form.
Kenichi Fujii cutting out a blank at the Fujii Works workshop in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture.This is the blank for a lacquer dish.

Kenichi Fujii cutting out a blank at the Fujii Works workshop in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture.
Wood ready to be used at the Fujii Workshop.
Kenichi Fujii cutting out wood with a bandsaw.This wooden blank will be turned in to a lacquer tray.

This circular form is the basis for a large circular lacquer tray that will be turned on the lathe.
Tools inside the workshop of Kenichi Fujii or Fujii Works.
He attaches the circular plate to the lathe and starts to turn the form with precision and accuracy.A close up of Kenichi Fujii woodturning on the lathe.

He attaches the circular piece of wood to the lathe and begins to turn the form with precision and accuracy.
Kenichi Fujii on the lathe.
Side shot of Kenichi Fujii on the lathe.
Kenichi sands some of the objects in his studio in Ono, Hyogo.He adds the wooden inserts to the tea box.

Kenichi adds some wooden inserts to their popular tea box and sands a small bread dish in which he will coat later with oil.
Kenichi Fujii places the inserts inside the tea box.
He pays particular attention to all the little

A selection of Oak, Walnut, Chestnut and Cherry Tea Boxes that are stocked at OEN Shop.
Kenichi Fujii checks the lids on a cherry lidded tea box.He uses his knife to make sure the lid fit perfectly.

Kenichi Fujii checks the lids on a cherry lidded tea box, he uses his knife to make sure the lid fit perfectly.
In Minako's area she applies the lacquer and finished to the woodwork. Here are the different types of urushi she applies to the surface of the objects.

In Minako’s studio she applies the lacquer and finishes to the woodwork. Here are the different types of urushi that she will apply to the surface of the objects.
Minako mixing the urushi lacquer in a red colour.
Touching up the surface of a lacquer dish in the Fujii Workshop.Minako touches up the surface of the large lacquer dish.

Minako touches up the surface of the large lacquer dish, paying careful attention to the grain of the wood.
The sap from the urushi tree is mixed with powder to make it stick to the vessel.

The sap from the urushi tree is mixed with powder to make it easy to apply to the vessel.
Making the lacquer which will be applied to the surface of a dish.
A lacquer brush that's used to apply the layers of urushi.Minako applies the treatment over the previous layers of urushi, creating a lovely finish that can last many centuries if treated with care.

Minako applies a final layer over the previous layers of urushi, creating a lovely finish that can last many centuries if treated with care.
Touching up the surface of a lacquer dish with Minako Fujii of Fujii Workshop.
Minako Fujii using the mixture of lacquer she has made to apply to the dish.
Dipping the brush in the lacquer before applying it to the dish.Minako off the lacquer many times to make sure the wood soaks up the urushi and it becomes a smooth surface.

Minako Fujii wipes the lacquer on and off many times to make sure the wood soaks up the urushi and it becomes a smooth surface that can stand the test of time.
A selection of brushes and tools used to apply the lacquer to the vessels.
Finishing the lacquer dish with a clear lacquer to create a nice shine across the surface.Minako touches up the surface of a lacquer dish, after leaving it to dry.

Minako finishes the surface on the lacquer dish, being careful not to leave any marks while it dries.
Minako leaves the lacquer tray to dry inside a humidity chamber, making sure the outer coat dries at a consistent rate.

She leaves the lacquer tray to dry inside a humidity chamber, making sure the outer coat dries at a consistent rate to the main body.
A selection of lacquer bowls by Fujii Works at their workshop in Hyogo Prefecture.

A selection of lacquer bowls by Fujii Works at their workshop in Hyogo Prefecture.
Kenichi uses his walnut tea box to put coffee inside.Fujii Works objects in use at their home in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture.
Walnut Tea Box in use at Kenichi Fujii's house in Ono City.

Walnut Tea Box in use at Kenichi Fujii’s house in Ono City.
Lacquer objects in use at Kenichi Fujii's house in Ono City.Kenichi and his daughter using their lacqueware at home.
Kenichi Fujii, Minako Fujii and family at their workshop in Ono City.

The Fujii family at their workshop and home in Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture.