Shibayama is a Japanese town in Chiba prefecture.

Shibayama is an art form originating from Japan. It involves lacquering objects with semi-precious materials, in a very particular style. Objects that are generally vases, boxes and cases for katanas.

These objects made in the Meiji era *, due to their delicacy and preciousness, are highly valued and sought after by many collectors.

Shibayamas work is a combination of inlay and relief that marries the two techniques in order to highlight their most spectacular features.

It was first used in Japan in the 18th century to decorate ornaments and items for personal use.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the distinctive value of the objects made by Shibayama artisans lies in the elaborate manual work and meticulous care required for their creation.

Typically the depressions were carved from ivory, exotic wood or lacquered surfaces. These depressions were then inlaid with small amounts of precious materials (mother of pearl, tortoise, coral, jade, bone and abalone), thus forming the pattern.
Each inlay is engraved, creating a relief consisting of many pieces.

Nowadays, objects created with the mother-of-pearl inlay technique are found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In addition, among the items of numerous large international auction houses (,, are objects decorated by workers who use the Shibayama technique. In Hungary, the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asian Art specializes in the collection of artefacts from the Far East.



* The Meiji Period is a historical moment in Japan that includes the 44 years of the reign of Emperor Mutsuhito. This period runs from 23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912. Wikipedia

Leave a comment