Two ancient arts come together in one uniquely beautiful artifact with the kumiko hikaribako, Japanese wooden light boxes. Part wooden ornament, part origami lantern, these glowing boxes by Japan’s Tanemura Woodworks are based on the antique Japanese woodworking style kumiko, which involves assembling small wooden pieces into geometric patterns without the use of glue or nails.
The unique method of joining wood into intricate designs first emerged during the Asuka period, over a thousand years ago. Its symmetrical geometric patterns inlaid with panels require extreme precision in every step, needing to be accurate to within 0.1mm to achieve sturdiness and exact symmetry.
Carrying on the ancient craft for a new generation, hikaribako boxes combine the wooden kumiko design with colourful panels made with the Kyoto paper technique kyo-karakami. A battery-operated LED light shines inside the box, illuminating the panels’ brilliant colours and motifs while casting a vibrant play of light and shadow on the walls.