Rare white and blue porcelain jūbako (tiered box) covered with red lacquer and gold maki-e decoration


A very rare jūbako-style box that combines the expertise of beautiful porcelain work with the skills of lacquer, creating a total surprise effect between its exterior and interior. It was made by the highly renowned Japanese craftsman Kato Gozan (1922-2007), who belongs to a prestigious line of samurai and potters from the Owari clan in Seto (Aichi prefecture).

After the Meiji Restoration (and the end of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868), his ancestors continued to make pottery, supplying pieces for the shrines of Ise and Meiji. He himself learnt and then passed on these skills, notably with Seto white and blue "sometsuke-yaki" porcelain, but also by imagining other creative expressions. His work has been exhibited extensively in Japan.

It is very rare to find pieces in Japan that combine ceramics and lacquer, even though this technique, known as totai shikki, is very old. As far back as the Jōmon period (corresponding to the Neolithic period), the Japanese used lacquer on their pottery to make it resistant and watertight so that it could carry water.

This exceptional object, comprising 3 levels and a lid, combines several techniques derived from Japanese know-how and the expertise of Kato Gozan. Delicate indigo motifs of pine, cherry, peony and bamboo, drawn before firing, blossom on the white of the porcelain, revealed when the different levels are lifted. When the box is closed, it is the magnificently dense red Japanese lacquer on which pine, cherry, chrysanthemum and peony designs have been applied in maki-e, i.e. gold powder sprinkled over the still-fresh lacquer.The edges of each tier are edged in gold, further accentuating the contrast between porcelain and red lacquer.

This very heavy box (2.4kg on its own) is presented in 2 beautiful double-protected wooden boxes, one of which is signed by the artisan.

It was made in the early 1990s and is in perfect condition, with the exception of a small chip in the lacquer on one of the levels (barely visible because it is at the level of the closure with the upper level) and on the interior gold edging, which in no way detracts from the beauty of the whole.


(lacquered box)

Height 20cm x Width 14cm x Depth 14cm

WEIGHT (total) 3400gr
COMPOSITION Porcelain, urushi lacquer

The traditional Japanese lacquer, urushi, is made from the sap of the lacquer tree (Rhus Verniciflua), which flows out after incision of the bark. It is a very precious material, a tree will only give a maximum of 200ml of sap in its life, which is worked by craftsmen each specialized in a particular stage. It takes many slow and meticulous operations to give life to lacquered objects. It is the oldest craft in Japan! Initially used to protect and waterproof objects, this immutable craft has become an art of extreme sophistication. If you want to know more about the art of Japanese lacquerware, you can read our dedicated article here.

This object keeps in memory the hand of the craftsman who designed it with patience. It will accompany your daily life, bringing its delicate and refined beauty, while contributing to the preservation of unique craftsmanship.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS Clean with a very soft cloth to avoid scratches, soaked with a little warm water if necessary (never soak your lacquered objects). No microwave, dishwasher, dryer. Do not expose to direct sunlight for a long time (risk of discoloration). If the atmosphere is very dry and very hot, and to avoid the risk of cracking, you can place a glass filled with water next to your lacquered object.

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