A New Gloss

Look up "Japan" in the dictionary and you may be surprised to learn that the country gets second billing. In some dictionaries, the first definition of the word is lacquer: it joined the English lexicon after European traders began importing richly varnished and decorated cabinets, trunks and coffers from Japan in the 16th century.

The heyday of lacquer ware is long gone, and in recent years most Japanese retailers watched helplessly as lacquer became unfashionable and sales plummeted. But one boutique that is bucking the trend is Tokyo's Yamada Heiando, a family-run business that has overhauled product lines...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!