Gorgeous chopsticks of outstanding quality. A masterpiece made by an accomplished artisan from Kyoto, Japan.
Rakuge Kobo has been manufacturing hikihaku, a specialty of Nishijin textile, for many years in Nishijin, Kyoto. 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. 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.
What are Nishijin brocade and hikihaku?
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.
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.
Chopsticks and chopstick rests representing the beautiful four seasons of Japan
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.
Spring | Season of the fresh blooms
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.
Summer | A season to enjoy the night sky
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.
Autumn | Season of vivid colors
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”!
Winter | Season of snowy landscapes
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.
Chopsticks makes everyday more colorful!
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!
Chopsticks thought out to be easy to use!
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.
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.
Charms of the kakishibu coaster
Four coasters matching the chopsticks’ four seasons designs are available only to early backers.
Manufacturing of the washi paper: “Nao Tesuki Washi”, Saga Prefecture, Kyushu.
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. 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!