Drawing "Gold Makie" Story

御前蒔絵 / Misaki Makie

Graduated from the Kanazawa College of Art, in the Department of Fine Art’s Japanese Painting Course

Has spent 5 years studying under Kanazawa’s Kaga-Makie after working as a teacher

Japanese paintings: Has exhibited at the Nitten, the Nisshunten, and the Kansai-ten (was awarded the Seki Exhibition Award); was also selected for the Kyoten

Makie: Awarded the Special Igarashi Doho Award, the Special 30th Anniversary Kanazawa Urushi Association Award, the Kanazawa Mayor’s Award, the Ishikawa Prefecture Design Center Director Award, the Ishikawa Prefectural Commodities Association Chairman Award, the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries Chairman Award, the Mayoral Award for Excellence, the Technological Development Award, the Union President Award, and the Kenroku Grand Tea Ceremony Award


-Tell us how you came to be involved in Makie.



Misaki Makie:Well, my mother was originally from a family that practiced Ishikawa Prefecture’s traditional urushi (lacquer) crafts. Her family was one of the original founders of the Japan Kogei Association, as well.

Because of her background in crafts, my mother had started a lacquerwares shop of her own in Osaka. Initially, I had no interest in following her footsteps.


But I did love to draw, so I majored in Japanese Painting in an art university. There, I learned the fundamentals of Japanese Painting.

I considered becoming a teacher after graduating, but the subject of marriage came up. After being introduced to a Makie professional in Kanazawa by the great-uncle, I started learning the Kaga Makie technique.


When I turned 30, I moved on and became an independent Makie craftsman in Kanazawa, and started accepting orders for Makie-finishings for Osaka companies specializing in kendo gear, in addition to lacquerware.

And approximately 10 years later, I moved my base of operations to Osaka so that I could open up my own Makie school.

(Originally, Mr. Misaki studied Japanese Painting in university.)

-Tell us a little bit about the history of Makie.



Misaki Makie:Layering lacquer on objects started as early as 9 thousand years ago.

Lacquerware that crossed over to Japan from the main continent slowly started to become incorporated into the national culture during the Nara and Heian Eras, and a uniquely Japanese style of Makie matured in Kyoto, where there was a lush aristocratic culture.

Afterwards, this style was transmitted to Edo and Kanazawa. During the Edo Period, Makie branched off into several schools, such as the Koami School, which served under the Tokugawa Domain (in current Tokyo), and the Igarashi School, which served under the Kaga Domain (in current Kanazawa).


Of these different Schools, the Schools in the Kaga Domain promoted cultural cooperation with the Edo Domain in order to showcase their loyalty.

The Kaga Makie was one of these cultural endeavors.


Since the Kaga Makie serves as decoration for samurai families, there was an emphasis on extravagance.

The main trend was kin-Makie, which used generous amounts of gold.

In recent years, Makie can usually be found on bowls, jubako (nests of boxes), and tea ceremony items.



-Please tell us about techniques used for Makie.



Misaki Makie:Makie techniques are based on lacquer-painting techniques.

They both share the same process of repeating the painting and drying steps to create layers.


The type of gold powder that is used in Makie is separated into categories, such as “Maru-fun” (rounded powder), “Hira-fun” (flat powder), and “Keshi-fun” (fine powder). In my school, I use the thickest type of powder, which is the “Maru-fun”.


Maru-fun contains the most amount of gold, making it the most expensive of the bunch. However, it also looks much more expensive than the rest, which is why I use it for my Makie.

The technique I use is known as “taka-Makie”, which is a drawing technique that emphasizes on building up the design. The finished product becomes very three-dimensional and visually impressive.


General Makie process:

1. Lay down the design outline—draw the outline

2. Layer on the rust, coal dust, lacquer, etc. along the outline and build up the lines

3. Sharpen

4. Perform “kona-ire”, which is to scatter the gold powder

5. Perform “nuri-komi”, which is to harden the gold dust using raw lacquer or satin lacquer

6. Sharpen

7. Draw on the surface designs

(You can see the impressive three-dimensionality and elegance)

-Is there anything you pay particular attention to, with respect to keeping your designs unique?



Misaki Makie:Well, many beautiful craftworks were made during the Edo and Meiji Eras. However, many of them are now overseas.

Those works were a culmination of flawless techniques, uncompromising attention to detail, and extreme dedication.

I aspire to attain that level of craftsmanship; that’s why I don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to creating my pieces.

I strive not to cut corners, and to better myself by not choosing the easiest options for myself.

I also try to focus on the elegance of Makie.

Real Makie have a sense of grace and beauty, so I try to create pieces that also radiate that same feeling.


For example, when putting a family crest on something, the usual technique is to create the entire design in gold first, and to express the veins of leaves and other designs by drawing them on top of the gold.

However, I choose to render each shape separately, and to express the veins and lines of the design through the indentations between the shapes.

Of course, this takes an exorbitant amount of time and effort.

However, the finished product looks more three-dimensional and real.

As someone involved in the creation of this historical Kaga-Makie, I work every day to show the world how elegant and beautiful this craft is.

(The veins of the leaves and the lines between the petals are expressed through the dents formed between each shape.)

-One final question. What are your goals for the future?



Misaki Makie:Much like other traditional crafts, those who engage in formal, traditional Makie practices grow fewer and fewer every year.

By showing people around the world how splendid Makie is, I hope to educate even one more person on this important piece of Japanese culture. And by doing so, I hope that the next generation of Makie artists will emerge from the woodwork.

(Even intricate motifs are rendered beautifully.)

※By pressing the button, it will open up "Hearing Sheet Form".