These coasters are handmade in Kanazawa from kiri (paulownia, or empress tree), a very fast-growing and lightweight tree. Kiri is valued in Japan for its resistance to moisture, heat and warping and is traditionally used to make drawer chests and the Japanese instrument koto.
Kiri craft in Kanazawa is distinct because the surface of the product is burned. After burning, soot is removed and the surface is polished. This process makes the surface harder, the wood grain appear more prominent, and stains and scratches less visible. But most of all, the burning creates a warm, smooth, and rounded surface that you can’t help but want to touch.
Each coaster shows the beautifully prominent wood grain and has a mark of the maker embossed on the bottom. Whether it’s your morning cup of coffee or a glass of good whisky, any beverage looks special on the kiri coaster.
- Material: Kiri grown in Japan
- 3½” x 3½” x ⅜”
- Color and grain pattern of each coaster may vary.
- Made in Japan
Who Makes It
Iwamoto Kiyoshi Shōten was founded in 1913 and is the only remaining workshop in Kanazawa that specializes in kiri craft. Kiri craft was once a thriving industry that mainly produced hibachi (brazier). Kiri is a perfect material for hibachi as it is extremely lightweight, has a high ignition point and is a low conductor of heat. As life in Japan modernized post-WWII, demand for hibachi dwindled and many kiri workshops closed.
When the owner of Iwamoto Kiyoshi Shōten decided to bring down the curtain in the early 2000s, his daughter, out of college and working in Tokyo, returned to Kanazawa with her new husband to explore the possibility of reviving the business. Joined by her younger brother, the three young entrepreneurs updated the product line to create goods that are more in line with modern taste.
Their products appeal to a wide range of audience, including people who have never used kiri ware. Lightweight and simply shaped, with the only accent being the prominent wood grain, kiri products do indeed fit the modern lifestyle of any culture.