photo Kinma


There are three basic variations of kinma: cutting lines, cutting dots, and a combination of the two. All three types use a special carving blade known as a kinma-ken. Colored Japanese lacquer, which differs from the base color, is painted in the cut-away areas. The lacquer surface is planed flat and the contrast between the base color and colored Japanese lacquer is visible. Originally, everything was done by cutting lines only, but it later became possible to produce complex designs using lacquer of various colors and differing cutting styles.
This technique is said to have been transmitted from Southeast Asia hundreds of years ago. In some parts of Southeast Asia, there is a habit of chewing betel nuts, seasonings, and other ingredients wrapped in betel leaves. Containers for betel made with the colored-lacquer technique were imported to Japan and as the betel chewing custom is called chien mahk in the Thai language, the name kinma is said to have been evolved from the name of the custom.


  1. 1.A design is cut into the surface.
  2. 2.The cut areas are filled in with colored lacquer.
  3. 3.Areas filled in with colored lacquer are polished down.
  4. 4.The piece is burnished with powdered deer antler and completed.
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo Reference artworks