photo Metal inlay


In metal inlay (zōgan), designs are cut into the surface of a piece and inlaid with a different metal of contrasting color or texture.
There is a variety of inlay styles such as wire inlay (sen zōgan), in which metal is inlaid in thin lines, flat inlay (hirazōgan), in which the inlaid metal is made to be flush with the surface of the piece, raised inlay (takaniku zōgan), in which the inlaid metal protrudes above the piece to create a design in relief, and nunome zōgan (“crosshatch inlay”), in which thin metal leaf is hammered into a scored pattern on the surface of the piece to create an overlay.


  • 1.A cavity with a wide base is cut into the metal substrate.
  • 2.A metal motif in the shape of the cavity is embedded in the substrate.
  • 3.The motif is hammered into the substrate until the edges are flush.
  • 4.The surface is filed and burnished, and the inlay is complete.
  • Reference: Nihon Kōgeikai Higashi Nihon Shibu (Japan Kōgei Association Eastern Branch), ed., Dentō kōgei-tte nani? – miru, shiru, tanoshimu gaido bukku (What Are Traditional Crafts? –A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying). Unsodo, 2013.