To connect the declining lacquer industry to the future.


Sabae City in Fukui Prefecture is Japan's largest lacquer production center. Echizen lacquerware is produced mainly in the Kawawada district and is known for its traditional crafts of 1500 years of history. There are two aspects in present Echizen Urushi (lacquer): lacquered crafts with high expertise, and commercial lacquerware used at inns and restaurants that occupy around 80% of the shares nationwide. While maintaining a complex industrial structure, Echizen Urushi has kept its status as Japan's largest lacquer production site. Lacquerware was once a big part of the Japanese lifestyle. However, it has begun to fade with time and local production areas were impelled to severe conditions. Under such circumstances, the Urushi lacquer industry needed to find a new way to stay relevant in the future. ​​​​​​​


Creating pictograms that make the process of lacquer clear at a glance.


Being in charge of the branding, in order to make the best use of the potentials of both traditional lacquered crafts and commercial lacquerware of the same area, we factorized the local industry into "traditional" and "innovative". As for the "traditional" approach, we gave each product a certified mark so customers could easily realize and purchase traditional lacquerware. At the same time, we achieved sales by unifying the brand through standardizing the packages that had been branded by previous manufacturers. 

On the other hand, for the "innovative" approach, we re-named the project to "Echizen Urushi" (meaning "Echizen Lacquer" in Japanese), where we reproduced the synthetic lacquerware technique and applied it in all the products such as eyewear, mobile phones, and cars. The idea was to create a new industry as a production site for paint-coating. Furthermore, we developed pictograms representing different characteristics of each product on the price tag. In this way, customers were able to identify at a glance the various manufacturing methods and characteristics of Echizen lacquerware that used to be difficult to understand and distinguish.​​​​​​​



We developed pictograms called "Urushi Pictograms," which helps quickly depict the materials, foundations, function, and restrains of each product. As a result, the features and price of synthetic resin products become more recognizable compared to before. By visualizing options such as dishwasher-safe and microwavable products, it became easier for our different customers to search for commercial lacquerware for restaurants or traditional crafts.​​​​​​​



The symbol of Echizen Lacquer is based on a circle that symbolizes the enlightenment of Zen and is designed to look like a bowl at the same time. In addition, the production site is close to "Eihei-ji" temple, which is a training hall with a tradition of over 700 years in Daihonzan's Soto school (of Zen Buddhism), and through typography, we were able to express historical relationships showing that "Zen" philosophy was part of this production area. ​​​​​​​



As part of the "innovation" approach, together with Japan's largest ink manufacturer "Toyo Ink Group", we developed the blackest lacquer in the 1200 years since lacquer was first introduced to Japan. "ZEN BLACK" was created by fusing technology of carbon nanotubes (CNT) and the technologies of lacquer craftsmen. This resulted for this project to expand possibilities of "paint-coating" of such black with unprecedented depths onto commercial lacquerware.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

さらに「革新」軸の取り組みの一環として、日本最大級のインキメーカーである東洋インキグループとともに、漆が日本に伝来してからの1200年間で最も黒い漆を開発しました。東洋インキが持つカーボンナノチューブ(CNT)分散体の技術と、漆職人の技術とを融合させることで生まれたこの「ZEN BLACK」によって、業務用漆器にかつてないほど深みのある黒を塗れるようになるなど、「塗装」の産地としての可能性を広げるプロジェクトに大きな期待が寄せられています。

「ZEN BLACK」のシンボルマークとロゴタイプ

A beacon of hope for our nation's lacquer production areas.


Echizen Urushi, which has begun a new step by clearly showing the two directions of “tradition” and “innovation,” has achieved a 10% increase in sales by selling high-class branding and standard packaging. The results of the “Urushi Pictogram” demonstration experiments have already begun to show results, with sales increasing by 20%. It will continue to further improve its position and value as Japan's largest lacquer production area. By exposing new initiations such as pictograms, we were able to show difficult situations lacquerware had endured. We aim for these initiations to guide other lacquer production areas throughout Japan and contribute to revitalizing other Japanese lacquer industry.


Art Direction
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa)
Graphic Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Toshiyuki Nakaie)
OKTS inc.

Sabae City, Japan

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