Yasuhiro Asai

Yasuhiro Asai was born in 1983 in the prefecture of Tottori (west coast of Japan), he has loved drawing and building things from an early age, but his fascination with Urushi lacquer in particular began in his teenage years.
He began to take Urushi lacquer courses in high school, and the beauty of jet-black Urushi lacquer, gold, and the many blues of mother-of-pearl attracted him right from the start.
His path in the world of Urushi lacquer arts continued at the Takaoka National College (now the University of Toyama) in 2002 where he entered the Urushi lacquer Craft Course of the Department of Industrial Design.
The approval of his family was so much that, after learning about the scarcity of Urushi lacquer and its high price, his father began to plant Urushi trees on the family’s farm, as it was the biggest obstacle in the life of an Urushi lacquer artisan whose lacquer is created from its sap.
He obtained his diploma two years later, with a specialization in Urushi lacquer art techniques, and received the "Yokoyama Prize" for his graduation project: "Writing Box with Jellyfish in Maki-e".
Asai then began an apprenticeship with Murose Kazumi, holder of an "Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan" in the art of Maki-e, a Japanese decoration technique done on Urushi lacquer, to deepen his learning of the craft under the teaching of one of Japan’s "human national treasure".

In the year 2006, as he created his first piece out of school, he naturally began to find his way and became independent as an Urushi artist in 2007.
In 2012, received the "Newcomer Award" at the 59th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition, and in 2015, the "Cultural Affairs Agency Commissioner's Award" at the 32nd Japan Traditional Urushi Works Exhibition.
In 2016, the collection of sap from the 200 trees planted by his family could begin, and currently, Asai’s Urushi lacquer that is used in his artwork is now entirely his own.

In 2023, the "Incense Burner with Maki-e and Inlaid Mother-of-pearl, "Yōraku"" was acquired by the British Museum.

Even today, he continues to pursue the Urushi lacquer art every day, while continuing to challenge himself in his life as an artisan.

Principal Award History

2002Japan Urushi Association, "Scholarship Award"
2004Takaoka National College, "Yokoyama Prize"
2008The 51st Japan Traditional Kōgei Chugoku Branch Exhibition, "Tottori Governor's Award"
2010The 54th Tottori Prefectural Art Exhibition, "Scholarship Award"
2012The 55th Japan Traditional Kōgei Chugoku Branch Exhibition, "Scholarship Award"
The 59th Japan Traditional Kōgei Exhibition, "Newcomer Award"
2015The 32nd Japan Traditional Urushi Works Exhibition, "The Cultural Affairs Agency Commissioner's Award"
2017The 57th Exhibition of East Japan Traditional "KŌGEI", "Scholarship Award"
2018Energia Culture and Sports Foundation, "Energia Prize, Art Category"
2021The 50th Japan Traditional Kōgei Kinki Exhibition, "Kyoto Newspaper Prize"
2024The 53rd Japan Traditional Kōgei Kinki Exhibition, "Japan Traditional Kōgei Kinki Prize"


2015"Nicolai Bergmann - Flowers & Design", Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo
"Urushi no Mirai", Takahashi Setsuro Art Museum of Azumino, Nagano
2018Ambiente 2018 (Germany), Kyoto Zuihodo Booth, Frankfurt
Craft Sake Week, "Syukiya", Tokyo
"Urushi no Genzai 2018", Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Tokyo
Art Expo Malaysia 2018, Gallery Hanakagesho Booth, Kuala Lumpur
URUSHI Dento to Kakushin (Tradition and Innovation), Kanagawa
2019"Our Collections! ~Tottori-ken no Art Collection no Koremade to Korekara~", Tottori Prefectural Museum, Tottori
"Bi no Yokan 2019 ∞directions", Takashimaya, Tokyo; Osaka; Kyoto; Aichi
"Gendai Kogei no Tenkai (Development of Contemporary Japanese Arts & Crafts) 2019",
2021CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK "Japanese and Korean Art"
"Shikkai - Kaze no Jidai no Keishosyatachi-", Takashimaya, Tokyo; Osaka; Kyoto; Kanagawa
2022"Genshi no Uchu -Gendai Shitsugeika 4nin no Rinko- (The Microcosm of Illusions -the Phosphorescence by 4 Contemporary Urushi Artists-)", Ginza Wako, Tokyo
2023CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK "Japanese and Korean Art"
2024"Mastering the Art : Exploring the Cultural Messages Connoted in Japanese Works", (Former) KOGEI center, Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Solo exhibitions

2017"Hikari wo Meguru (Follow the Light)", Seibu Ikebukuro, Tokyo
2021"Jonetsu Passion", Seibu Ikebukuro, Tokyo


John C. Weber Collection
L.U.CEUM Collection, Chopard Manufacture, Fleurier, Switzerland
Public Collection
British Museum


"Hikari wo Meguru (Follow the Light)" Yasuhiro Asai A Collection of Maki-e Works
/ Author: Yasuhiro Asai. Published by Studio Zipangu / First Edition, April 1, 2017, ISBN 978-4-9909546-0-4
情熱 Passion Yasuhiro Asai A Collection of Lacquerware Works
/ Author: Yasuhiro Asai. Published by Studio Zipangu / First Edition, November 10, 2021, ISBN 978-4-9909546-1-1