What is Kumiko?

Kumiko woodworking is a traditional Japanese woodworking technique involving intricate patterns and designs using thin pieces of wood that are carefully cut, fitted, and joined together without using nails or glue. The method is most commonly used in constructing shoji screens, latticework, and other decorative elements in traditional Japanese architecture. The term “Kumiko” refers to the small wooden pieces used in the technique.

Kumiko Patterns

There are several popular Kumiko patterns in traditional Japanese woodworking, including:

  1. Asanoha: A hexagonal pattern often used as a decorative element in shoji screens and other architectural elements.
  2. Kikko: A pattern of overlapping hexagons resembling a tortoise’s shell.
  3. Shippo: A seven-pointed star pattern that symbolizes good luck and prosperity.
  4. Chidori: A pattern that resembles a flock of birds in flight.
  5. Tsunami: A wave-like pattern that symbolizes the movement of water.
  6. Kumiko Zaguri: A lattice pattern that creates a three-dimensional effect.
  7. Kikkou: A honeycomb pattern often used in shoji screens and other decorative elements.

These are just a few of the many Kumiko patterns that exist, and skilled Kumiko artisans can also create a wide variety of other designs. The patterns are created by carefully cutting and fitting small pieces of wood together to create intricate geometric designs.


Kumiko woodworking has a long and rich history in Japan, dating back several centuries to the beginning of the country’s traditional architectural style. The technique was developed to create delicate, intricate patterns and designs in wood that were impossible with other woodworking methods. It is believed to have originated in the 7th century to imitate the patterns of woven baskets in wood. It has since been used in a variety of applications, including the construction of shoji screens, latticework, and other decorative elements in traditional Japanese architecture. Over the centuries, Kumiko woodworking has become a highly regarded form of craftsmanship, with skilled artisans continuing to pass down the techniques and traditions from generation to generation.

Posted on 3rd February 2023 by Alan