About Kyoto Zuihodo


About Kyoto Zuihodo

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‘Regarding a silver tea-pot, there is so much more than just using silver material to build one.’

              -- Master Shiro Sekiya, designated ‘National Treasure’ of Japan

A passionate spirit for metalwork that dates back five centuries

The Nishijin District in Kyoto. The name Nishijin has its origins in the Onin War, where the area served as a place of deployment for the Western Army. As the war ended, many masters and craftsmen who had been driven out by the turmoil returned to the land to rebuild the city of Nishijin, a centre of textile, metalworking, and other production for royal houses. However, the development of Nishijin was no stranger to obstacles. In the middle of the Edo Period, a devastating fire destroyed the work of predecessors and swallowed its countless treasures. Just when people thought Nishijin was never going to recover from the disaster, in the Meiji Period, it miraculously rose up from the ashes. In the hands of numerous master artisans, Nishijin once again manifested its legacy of beauty and extraordinary quality and has maintained them to this day.      

ZUIHODO is located in Nishijin, at the confluence of deep streams in traditional arts. The name ZUIHODO represents the same guardianship of tradition, and fusion with innovation, as the history of Nishijin. ZUIHODO continues to pass on its traditional techniques and immortalize them in its masterworks. In the past, ZUIHODO specialized in making elaborate metal ornaments for hilts, sheathes, and guards of swords for samurai and the royal court. Now, it creates silver tea-pots and tea utensils for tea lovers and collectors. There may be a change in the range of products, but the tradition it preserves, the exquisite techniques it employs, and the humanity it pours into the works, remain the same.          

The everlasting native spirit that carries on the everlasting classic tradition

Although time advances relentlessly, things of beauty are never abandoned; it’s as though the craving for beauty is encoded in our genes. When you hold a piece of ZUIHODO’s work, you can see the magnificence in its simplicity and aesthetic complexity. It’s a rare combination of revered tradition and virtuosity. What you are gazing upon is the apotheosis of beauty, and what you are holding in your hands has a weightiness that can only be the result of traditional techniques. For ZUIHODO, the pursuit of beauty is our basic principle, and every piece of work is imbued with the expertise, thoughts and spirit of its creator. It is only when the soul is breathed into a ‘thing’ that it will be transformed from an ‘object’ into a piece of ‘art.’ The creator has to first engage in a conversation with the silver material, behold its hue and texture, before they apply their craftsmanship and pour their thoughts and perseverance into their creations.  Finally, when each piece radiates with nearly perfect artistry, and it is at this moment that the creator is ready to humbly yet proudly present their traditional metalwork art to the world, with all its purity and subtle beauty.     

Upholding the majesty of traditional craftsmanship and expanding authentic artistic values

A piece of unprepossessing silver material is gradually given life by its creator by being hammered and beaten thousands of times with traditional methods for a hundred days; with repeated applications of heat, its contour is delineated and forms the shape of a tea-pot. The creator continues to infuse the piece with meaning to forge its soul and make it shine with distinctive radiance. Without the thoughts and ideas of the creator, these vessels would be nothing but objects of mass production. On the other hand, without the collector’s perception and appreciation, these works would be merely products with price tags. The only way for the work to shine and show its value is by the communication of information and emotions among the creator, the piece of artwork, and the collector.  

ZUIHODO protects not only aesthetic traditions but also that intimate relationship. Through the works themselves, we are able to allow the creators to tell the stories that have accrued for hundreds of years, and make the collectors feel our deep attachment to Kyoto’s history and tenacious pursuit of perfection.  




ZUIHODO’s ideas:

‘Regarding a silver tea-pot, there is so much more than just using silver material to build one.’

              -- Master Shiro Sekiya, designated ‘National Treasure’ of Japan

This short phrase completely explains the difference between art and mere objects

ZUIHODO integrates Japan’s traditional metalwork techniques, instilling the spirit and intelligence of masters of art, with the tenacious pursuit of perfection.

Redefine and interpret the beauty of ancient metalwork and present the inherited hundred-year-old art form to the world across the currents of time.    


Tradition – Priceless treasures that rely on hundreds of years of craftsmanship


With the coming of the industrial revolution and the rise of machines, people have abandoned the time-consuming, expensive process of hand-crafted silverwork, and turned to assembly-line commodities pumped out by the new technology that are cheap and can be produced quickly. However, in the face of this inexorable trend, there is a small group of people with excellent techniques still adhering to the ancient skills and maintaining the purity and aesthetics of hand-made products. They will continue to strive to pass down the traditional arts in different ways however harsh the environment. ZUIHODO and these masters undertake to guard Japan’s traditional craftsmanship and methods and preserve the vaunted status of traditional metalwork techniques. 


Time -- Passing on the essence of the methods of metalwork

 ZUIHODO preserves the hundred-year-old Zuihodo name and protects Japan’s traditional metalwork art with all its heart. The techniques of metalworking, which are steeped in history, are the distillation of our predecessors’ hard work and the essence of time-honoured methodology. ZUIHODO persists in demonstrating the foundations of artistry rooted in history, displaying the outstanding methods of the original artisans. We carve and polish every detail with devotion and inscribe our deep historical traditions into the works, beat by beat and stroke by stroke with our tools. Our timeless techniques are being continually refined by masters committed to elevating the craft of metalworking. ZUIHODO is thus endowed with one-of-a-kind character in a classic artistic lineage.

Art -- The co-interpretation of tradition and innovation

Traditional techniques preserved only as historical facts will eventually be reduced to texts and relics to be locked away behind glass in museums. In order to safeguard them as living arts, we have to continuously use and pass down these methods with the thoughts and intuition of the creators, to embody their pursuit of perfection, and to encourage artistic breakthroughs.  ZUIHODO has inherited hundreds of years of craftsmanship, and with our requirement for ultimate beauty, we keep on injecting vitality into the art of metalwork. Apart from re-interpreting classic techniques and maintaining the essence of traditional metalwork, we also encourage a spirit of constant improvement to combine tradition and innovation. By so doing, the techniques of metalwork are able to go beyond the traditional into the realm of artistic spirituality.       


Value --The ultimate exemplification of humanity and ‘heart’


The reason a technology or an object is able to be passed down for generations is because of its ‘heart’. In the workshop, the clanging sound of masters’ hammers shaping the silver tea-pots and other works represents the pouring of the human spirit and pursuit of perfection into their traditional methods and into their oeuvre with their tools. Collectors appreciate, nay, marvel at the works, put their admiration and joy into the works, and share the discernment of beauty with more people, and then ultimately pass the pieces down to the next generation. The value of art is in its full blossom at this very moment, and ZUIHODO has as its goal conveying and protecting this ethos. As the traditional techniques are therefore inherited, and the beauty of art is passed down, the hundred-year-old brilliance of ZUIHODO is able to retain its lustrous sheen.      



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