Rakugei Chopsticks & Coasters from Nishijin

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  • Funded 1,905,434yen (About $19054.34) (About $0) The target amount is $1000 This is an All or Nothing project. This project will be funded if the amount of money raised exceeds its target amount.
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Gorgeous handcrafted tableware inspired from Japan's four seasons, using a decorative technique belonging to Nishijin's silk kimono!

SERENDOUCE CRAFTS

2022.8.16

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Gorgeous handcrafted tableware inspired from Japan's four seasons, using a decorative technique belonging to Nishijin's silk kimono!

SERENDOUCE CRAFTS

2022.8.16

Chopsticks showing Japan’s sense of beauty

The hikihaku is made by Kohei Murata, a traditional craftsman of Nishijin brocade, a craft designated as a traditional handicraft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. A traditional craftsman is a craftsman who refines techniques from traditional crafts, handed down for generations in Japan and who pass them down to future generations. It is a title that only a small number of people can boast, as it is a national certification which requires skills and techniques that take a long time to acquire.

Owing to its incredible historical value of more than 1200 years and the techniques and experience that has been passed down from generation to generation, the traditional craft of Nishijin brocade has brought to the world a unique kind of beauty.

*The Nishijin brocade is a woven fabric with a very long history in Japan, famous for being used on gorgeous kimono obi.

*Hikihaku is the technique used to produce the gorgeous shiny threads used in Nishijin brocade. Traditional "hikihaku" is made by applying lacquer as an adhesive to the surface of washi paper, pressing (or affixing) gold or silver foil to it and then cutting it. The design created by the foil will then enhance the brilliant beauty of the Nishijin brocade.

This time, we applied this beautiful design on chopsticks! With this project you can get to experience hikihaku, a craft normally inaccessible, on chopsticks that can be used everyday.



Kitaōji Rosanjin, a famous Japanese potter and gourmet, once said that “dishware is a kimono for food”. Dishware is like clothes that bring out the charm of a dish and brightly color it. Each tool present on the table enriches it and gives happiness to the people around it. This level of care sustains the feeling of “omotenashi”, and you can say that chopsticks are a part of Japanese hospitality.


It is said that the appearance of a dish influences its taste. By carefully putting together the things that surround your food, such as dishware and chopsticks, you can make your meal times an even more enjoyable experience.


The technique called hikihaku is the first essential step to make a beautiful Nishijin brocade kimono.

The Nishijin brocade is a traditional craft whose techniques have been passed down from ancient times in Kyoto, and is the emblematic textile for the obi, the Japanese kimono satchel. Nishijin silk fabric, being woven using beautiful glittering threads, boasts brilliant and gorgeous motifs on its surface. Historically, it was favored by wealthy people such as influential samurai and wealthy merchants who ruled over large lands in Japan, and received high support. The Nishijin brocade, still used in the production of diverse items in small quantities, is, even now, highly regarded worldwide.

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 1. Applying foil to washi paper

The surface of Japanese washi paper is first colored with colored lacquer and a pattern is then added to it. The materials used are gold, silver, colored foil, platinum foil, mother-of-pearl foil, etc.

Different techniques are involved in the decorating process. Sprinkling the foil through a net, layering foils on top of each other to add depth, manually glue bits one by one, or dare to peel it off or scrape it, these are techniques that can be used. It is a work full of artistic sensibility, and that is why each design is unique.

2. Cutting & interweaving

With Nishijin brocade, a specialized artisan called a “Kiriya” cuts the paper to make it into a textile. Generally, the width of the cut is about 0.3mm for thin items, as thin as a hair. The cut foils are then woven one by one by a craftsman. By weaving these threads in order, the pattern drawn on the original Japanese paper is reproduced on the textile. The name “hikihaku” comes from the action of the artisan who carefully hooks and pulls each strand of foil thread onto the spatula as it is woven.


The hikihaku, which will become one of the weaving materials, brings depth, in the manner of a painting, and enhances the beauty of the Nishijin silk fabric.





Japan is a country with four seasons, "spring", "summer", "autumn", and "winter", and the colors of nature change in each season, letting you enjoy its various expressions. Japanese people have a lot of traditions that revolve around the different seasons, celebrated through events and seasonal dishes. For each season when different types of vegetable, fruit and seafood are harvested, it is said that there is a period when ingredients are especially delicious, and Japanese people really value that aspect of the culture. In this project, Mr.Murata's creativity and inspiration are used to express the beautiful four seasons of Japan, which are inseparable from food, in the colors of chopsticks so that you can feel the charm of the hikihaku at your daily dining table.


Sakura is a popular spring flower in Japan. It is also displayed on Japanese coins and is familiar to the Japanese people as a de facto national flower and symbol. The season when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom is also highly appreciated by people from overseas. Wisteria is also a famous spring flower.


For spring chopsticks, we used flower-inspired nuanced foil, and used an advanced technique to attach very thin foil, enabling us to decorate with large foils in a luxurious manner. It is a very simple design that lets you enjoy the beauty of the foil itself.


There is a culture of enjoying the beautiful night sky during summer in Japan. Fireworks are one of the summer traditions and even today, many Japanese wear yukata and enjoy the beauty of the shiny lights. 


The beautiful sparkle unique to summer nights is expressed by the special technique of Rakugei Kobo, where multiple foils are layered and the decorating process is repeated 5 times. You can enjoy the deep and three-dimensional brilliance created by this traditional technique.


The charm of autumn in Japan is the beauty of autumn leaves. The historic temples and the breathtaking cityscape that turn red are truly spectacular, and it is a popular season for foreign tourists to visit Japan. It can be said that the sense of beauty Japanese people feel in the “calm, simplicity and quietness” is being nurtured in the slightly lonely feeling in the air that comes with the fleeting change of nature’s colors.

For the autumn chopsticks, we used “aged foils” that were made over time. These are silver leaves that were stored by Mr.Murata’s grandfather for posterity, that underwent chemical changes and whose colors slowly naturally changed over the years. These are precious, with a unique brilliance, and will make you experience the “wabi-sabi”!


The natural sceneries of Japan, the temples and shrines show a different look when it snows. When the sunlight shines upon the snow, it sparkles in gold, and it takes on a blue color when seen in the shade. The usual sights, when covered in snow, can take on a variety of different colors!


The winter chopsticks are made to reflect the glittering of the snow, the blooming camellias, and the warmth of the lights, all particular to the winter season. A fine item whose pattern is made with plant fibers, combining silver and gold foils (Unryu foils) with vividly colored foils to create a modern feel.

The fact that the glittering of the foils changes with the light source or the viewing angle, and that their shine gains in depth as you use them over time, are the charm points of these chopsticks. These are special chopsticks that you can use and enjoy for a long time.


Four coasters matching the chopsticks’ four seasons designs are available only to early backers. To enhance the charm of the hikihaku we chose to go with Japanese washi paper, also a traditional Japanese craft, for the coaster’s material. You can enjoy this item in a wide range of situations, be it for everyday life or for a chic dinner.



Kohei Murata

Nishijin textile Hikihaku shop “Rakugei Kobo” third generation

Traditional crafts designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry | Nishijin silk department traditional craftsman


Rakuge Kobo has been manufacturing hikihaku, a specialty of Nishijin textile, for many years in Nishijin, Kyoto. We continue to support and protect this technique of weaving foil, which is said to have been developed over 300 years ago. Rakugei Kobo not only connects Nishijin-ori techniques to the future, but also aims to create works that are in line with modern life and build new traditions based on those techniques.

Rakugei Kobo makes innovative designs for the domestic and international market while creating contacts with a wide range of domains such as art, design, interior design, and fashion. And eventually it could be noticed around the world, and we hope this chopsticks and coaster project could be the trigger for that.


This project is born from the mission to “create an opportunity to experience Japanese crafts”. “SERENDOUCE” is all about experiencing the beauty and comfort of modern life through serendipity and crafts. Things that attract the heart and fascinate the eyes, if you trace back to their roots, you can find in the Japanese aesthetic the challenges of traditionals techniques and creators. SERENDOUCE CRAFTS aims to create and convey new values together with creators.

https://serendouce-crafts.com/


For special meals with the family or when inviting friends for dinner, food on the table usually gets a little more extravagant. In the same fashion, these chopsticks match the food and occasion and bring colors to the table! The charm of the chopsticks is brought out even more when paired with plates with a simple design. By putting candles on the table for example, depending on the lights, the chopsticks shine differently and you can enjoy these variations! You can even up your game further by matching your tableware with the early backer limited coasters! Or feel fancy using these chopsticks when ordering Japanese or Asian food! 

Chopstick rests are used to prevent the chopsticks from rolling, to keep the table clean, and to keep the part that goes into the mouth hygienic. Like forks and knives, using a chopstick rest leads to quality and hospitality. Arranging your table gets even more fun with these chopstick rests made with gorgeous foils!

These coasters made of natural materials blend nicely into any kind of table arrangement. With a size of about 9 cm2, you can place tumblers, beer glasses, wine glasses, mugs, etc. on them. When putting a transparent glass on them, you can enjoy the hikihaku reflected on the bottom!


1 | Sturdy and durable materials

To enhance the beauty of the hikihaku, ironwood is used as base material for the chopsticks. It is a wood of superior quality, hard and heavy like an iron sword.  It is a highly durable material and features a wood grain with a beautiful wavy pattern.  Due to its weight, it feels stable when held and its durability has been improved by layering lacquer. After use, wash thoroughly, wipe off moisture and dry before storing away.


2|Easy-to-use octagonal shape

The tip is cut into an octagon to make it easier to grasp the ingredients. Also, because it is multifaceted but not angular, it feels smooth in hand! The size is 24 cm, which is slightly longer than the chopsticks usually used in Japan, and the size has been adjusted so that people with large hands can also use it easily.


1. Shaping

The bare wood is shaved by the hand of a first-class craftsman. The technique of the craftsman becomes apparent when the tips of the two chopsticks meet perfectly when put next to each other. The whole length from the handle to the tip should be arranged in a beautiful octagon. This attention to details is what makes it easy to take in hand.

2. Lacquering

Polished chopsticks are coated with urushi, a natural material. After applying the lacquer, they are dried overnight in a place called “muro”. The chopsticks from this project go through this process five times, and by taking time and effort, the gloss, smoothness, and durability of the lacquer are improved.

3. Applying the foils

The manner in which the foil is applied depends on the design. Each piece is hand-finished and carefully crafted.

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A simple texture unique to handmade Japanese paper and handmade products.

Washi coasters, carefully crafted one by one. These coasters made of Japanese washi paper are thin and very light! By applying Rakugei Kobo’s hikihaku to them, we got a true collaboration of Japanese traditional crafts. In the same manner as the chopsticks, they have a different design for every season. These coasters are like beautiful small canvases that you can use daily and in all kinds of settings!


In Japan, astringent persimmon juice (kakishibu), which contains a lot of tannins, has been used as a paint in many fields of daily life. It is a natural material made by fermenting and aging green persimmon. By exposing it to ultraviolet rays, the color gets darker and the finish glossy. The deep color obtained by repeating the dyeing process gives a calming feeling! Moreover, this repeated treatment enhances the waterproof and insect repellent properties and makes the material more durable, allowing it to be used for a long time.


Manufacturing of the washi paper: “Nao Tesuki Washi”, Saga Prefecture, Kyushu.


"Nao Tesuki Washi '' does not use bark from the usual mulberry tree as a raw material for washi, but the Kajinoki (Paper Mulberry) that grows naturally in the Nao area. Compared to mulberry, the fibers are longer and entwined with each other, so it produces especially thin and durable paper.

There used to be more than 100 washi paper workshops in this area, but nowadays the Taniguchi family, who produces these coasters, is the only producer in Japan still crafting washi paper by using bark from organically grown paper mulberry trees and is striving to preserve the tradition of the durable Nao washi paper.




・You can freely choose a combination of any season’s designs according to your preferences.

・You cannot choose the design of the chopstick rest separately as it comes as a set with the matching chopsticks. The design will be the same as the chopsticks.

・You cannot choose the design of the coaster separately as it comes as a set with the matching chopsticks. The design will be the same as the chopsticks.


Campaign start : August 16th 2022

End of the campaign : September 30th 2022

Shipping schedule :  planned for October 2023

This Project is promoted by Japankuru Funding, Bringing Japanese Products to the West!
This Project is promoted by Japankuru Funding, Bringing Japanese Products to the West!

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This is an All or Nothing project. This project will be funded if the amount of money raised exceeds its target amount.

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SERENDOUCE CRAFTS

This project is born from the mission to “create an opportunity to experience Japanese crafts”. “SERENDOUCE” is all about experiencing the beauty and comfort of modern life through serendipity and crafts. Things that attract the heart and fascinate the eyes, if you trace back to their roots, you can find in the Japanese aesthetic the challenges of traditionals techniques and creators. SERENDOUCE CRAFTS aims to create and convey new values together with creators

Select a return to support!

This is an All or Nothing project. This project will be funded if the amount of money raised exceeds its target amount.

Pledge ¥10,450 or more $80| Rakugei Chopsticks x1

Get yourself a pair of chopsticks made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your chopsticks at the end of the campaign!

INCLUDES:
Chopsticks
Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥10,450 or more $80| Early Bird Chopsticks & Coaster Set

Get yourself a pair of chopsticks with a matching coaster and chopstick rest made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your set.

INCLUDES:
Chopsticks
Coaster
Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥20,900 or more $160| Rakugei Chopsticks x2

Get yourself 2 pairs of chopsticks made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your chopsticks at the end of the campaign!

INCLUDES:
2× Chopsticks
2× Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥20,900 or more $160| EB Chopsticks & Coaster Set x2

Get yourself 2 pairs of chopsticks with their matching coasters and chopstick rests made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your set.

INCLUDES:
2× Chopsticks
2× Coaster
2× Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥41,800 or more $319| EB Chopsticks & Coaster Set x4

Get yourself 4 pairs of chopsticks with their matching coasters and chopstick rests made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your set.

INCLUDES:
4× Chopsticks
4× Coaster
4× Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥41,800 or more $319| Rakugei Chopsticks x4

Get yourself 4 pairs of chopsticks made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your chopsticks at the end of the campaign!

INCLUDES:
4× Chopsticks
4× Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥9,405 or more $72| Super EB Chopsticks & Coaster Set

Get yourself a pair of chopsticks with a matching coaster and chopstick rest made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This reward gives you a 10% discount off the future RRP! You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your set.

INCLUDES:
Chopsticks
Coaster
Chopstick Rest

Pledge ¥18,810 or more $144|Super EB Chopsticks & Coaster Setx2

Get yourself 2 pairs of chopsticks with their matching coasters and chopstick rests made by an amazing craftsman who is certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This reward gives you a 10% discount off the future RRP! You can choose from Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter designs for your set.

INCLUDES:
2× Chopsticks
2× Coaster
2× Chopstick Rest
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