West of Tokyo, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, the small mountain town of Hakone, Japan, is known for its legendary hot springs, but it also gives its name to a special type of woodcraft known as Hakone Yosegi-zaiku. Yosegi-zaiku is a kind of parquetry featureing elaborate inlaid, geometric mosaic designs. Hakone Yosegi-zaiku makes use of the diversity and great beauty of the trees found in the region and celebrates their beautiful colors and composition in the resulting mosaics and marquetry work created with these local, natural materials. No stains or colorings are used.
In this video, we see master of Yosegi marquetry, Tanegi Zukuri, going through all of the steps for creating the cylinders of cut wooden strips that are glued together into blocks and then shaved with a plane to create paper-thin wooden sheets of marquetry. These sheets are then used as veneer on boxes, cabinets, and other wooden objects. The results are incredibly beautiful and have made this region of Japan and it’s craftspeople world-renowned over the past two centuries.