URUSHI MOBILE TUMBLER- Carry Elegance With You On The Go

This is our modern twist on traditional Japanese lacquerwares, allow us to introduce, the “Urushi Mobile Tumbler”. It is a collection of stainless steel tumblers hand painted with sleek lacquer in two sophisticated colour, ‘blackest black’ and “vermilion”, the same finish and colours applied to traditional Japanese tableware.

The Story

Tsuchinao Shikki is a Japanese lacquerware company based in Fukui Prefecture that still makes each lacquerware pieces by hand. Over the years, however, Japanese demand for lacquerware have decreased. With the goal of continuing on the time-honoured hand-painting Urushi technique and still make everyday objects people can enjoy using in the modern day, the URUSHI MOBILE TUMBLER was created.

Tsuchinao, with the help of the Keio Media Design’s Sabae project, developed the Urushi Tumbler product with the thermo mug brand’s portable mugs. The tumbler first made its debut in pop-up collections across Tokyo, since then improvements have been made with the feedback from customers. This time around, there are two sizes, a 12oz and a 16.9oz versions. 

Polished Japanese aesthetics on contemporary Travel Mugs

What is Urushi?

Urushi is a traditional Japanese lacquer finish that is painted on Japanese tablewares such as bowls, chopsticks, spoons, and trays. 

To elaborate, lacquer is a natural varnish that is high in gloss when hardened, it’s a coating with a “living” quality, as described by craftsmen at Tsuchinao. Extracted from Urushi trees, the oily sap hardens into shiny lacquer when it encounters the moisture in the atmosphere. Due to its natural process, every single mixture is a unique mix. Hence, each painted piece is also one of its kind. The finished products uphold absolute consistency with the precise painting, however, if you examine the bottom and top closely, you can find the subtle uniqueness of each.

The Echizen area is a particularly famous area in Japan known for the urushi technique and the lacquerware industry, producing 80% of Japan’s lacquerware products for business use. The area is unique in having a climate high in humidity that is suitable for drying the varnish, the same humidity also gives form to stunning fog in the fields throughout the year.

Traditionally, lacquerware is made to perfection by hand, from the steps of carving bowls from wood to painting the multiple layers of urushi. Attention to perfection is a feature of Echizen tableware.  

The plant-based lacquer can be applied to not only wooden material but also metals. Each tumbler is painted precisely by craftsmen. To finish each piece,4 coatings are required, with drying in between. For the MAKIE designs, gold and silver patterns are screen-printed onto the urushi for a glittery finish. 

Tsuchinao is insistent on keeping the traditional technique that involves absolute care in hand painting individual pieces precisely.


This is our 3rd collaboration model with the tumbler brand, thermo mug, after the “URUSHI COFFEE TUMBLER”, and the “URUSHI UMBRELLA TUMBLER”. This time, we are releasing a mobile, meaning fully-sealed, portable design with the same exquisite urushi finish that comes in two sizes, 10oz (300ml) and 16.9 oz (500ml).

In the updated model, the tumbler has a screw-on type lid that is
fully sealed when closed, making it portable and easy to use.

The Selection

– COLOR –  

Let’s talk about our two colour varieties, “黒KURO” – blacand “朱SHU” – vermilion.

The former is Urushi Black, Kuro. It represents grit and individuality, as a it is a colour that won’t change no matter what it is mixed with. For the latter, we have the time-honoured vermilion colour used on Shinto gates, and symbolizes a divine quality. This Urushi Vermillion, or Shu has a origin of representing fire and the sun, and is also a colour that protects people from harm. 

– TYPES –  

無地 MUJI – the original Urushi gloss finish  

蒔絵 MAKIE – a series of a pattern of glittery gold or glistening silver wrapped over Urushi  

匠 TAKUMI – a series of specially-crafted textures 

The original glossy lacquer finish smooth texture that highlights the craftsmen’s expert technique.  

Personified-animal Caricatures 
A pattern of cartoon animals taken directly from the historic “Chouju Giga”, one of the first Japanese mangas written 800 years ago. The playful illustrations of animals doing man-like things makes the tumbler a rich blend of lighthearted humour and Edo-inspired art.

A specially designed pattern to represent the enduring life force of vines that bears the meaning of longevity, strong lifeforce, and prosperity.

Thousand bird & Wave
A simple and sophisticated pattern that symbolizes safety, peace and good fortune for the family featuring a Japanese wave pattern and the chidori, the thousand bird.

Traditional Treasures
A specially designed pattern featuring symbols of Japanese traditional treasures that bear luck and good fortune.

A texture made by the powder used to 

Painted with multiple layers of Urushi and hand-wrapped with cloth to create a one of a kind texture. 

 ***** Please specify which size, color, and design type you would like to buy *****  


M Size (10 oz or 300 ml) 
Dimensions: :Diameter 9.7 cm x Height 13.8 cm 
Weight : 240 g

L Size (16.9 oz or 500 ml)
Dimensions :  Diameter 10.1 cm x Height  18.5 cm   
Weight : 333 g

Body Material:  18-8 Stainless
Lid Materials: Polypropylene 

※ The tumbler has a dual-wall vacuum-sealed body that insulates its content. It is made with stainless steel that has 18% and above chrome and 8% and above nickel added iron. The 18-8 stainless steel has higher heat tolerance than most stainless wares on the market. With the double layer construct of Urushi lacquer and stainless steel, it can retain heat longer and insulate the cold as well as keep condensation from forming for a longer time.

Please go to http://thermomug.com/ for more details on the specs of the termo tumblers.

Studio Tour

Would you like to experience Urushi painting for yourself, directly at Sabae city in Fukui prefecture, Japan? You can come see the factory to see how the lacquerware is made and create a one-of-a-kind tumbler with your name or a customised mini drawing in it with the artisans. 

In the Traditional Craft Future Project, we help traditional artisans develop new products. There are many traditional crafts other than Urushi in the Echizen area, such as Echizen swords, Echizen Japanese paper, etc. As the side trip of the project, you can also book a one-day trip from one factory to another around Echizen area to fully enjoy the “Town of Creativity”.

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