Amita Co. artists: Minai, Torahiko Kanamori, Takeshi

Murakami, Torajiro [村上虎治郎]

Murakami company (村上合名會社), founded by Murakami Torajiro (村上虎治郎), was a family business based in Kyoto during the Meiji era. The company was involved in production of a large variety of art goods: wooden ware, including bamboo ware, boxes, baskets and walking canes; lacquer ware, including pictures, vases, jars and furniture; silverware; damascene; cloisonnes and items made of cast bronze.
At the Centennial International Exhibition at Philadelphia, 1876, Murakami presented his works in several categories: two boards showing various kinds of lacquering (in the Furniture and Lacquered Ware category), tin flower vases and jars, lacquered and decorated by engravings in the lacquer (in the Table Furniture category), walking canes (in the Toys, Fancy Articles and Small Objects of Adornments category), bamboo ware, writing boxes and glove boxes (in the Wooden and Basket Ware category). In the Furniture and Lacquered Ware category he was commended for good and well-finished lacquered work, in different shades of gold. In the Table Furniture category he was commended for novelty in black lacquered ware, as jars, vases, and tea-caddies, on a basis of tin, gilded inside, and with bright white decorations of ingenious character upon the black ground. Torajiro's signature is listed in the James Bowes' book "Japanese marks and seals" (1882).

A pair of bronze vases (left) and an incense burner (right) by T. Murakami.

In 1890s Murakami Takejiro (村上竹次郎), presumably the Torajiro's son, becomes the proprietor of the Murakami company. Company extends its assortment to include damascene (Nunome Zogan) artworks, which included inlayed dishes and jewelry boxes. Murakami successfully combined copper, steel and inlayed gold in their products.

A dish by Torajiro Murakami. Nunome Zogan on steel, with the copper plated back, leaving the trade mark in exposed steel.

Around 1900 company moves from Yanaginobanba Bukkoji Sagaru to Sanjo Kawara-machi, still in Kyoto. Takejiro continues to submit works of the family workshop to national and foreign exhibitions. In 1904 he presents the company works at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, USA. Among the exhibited items were flower vases, trays, chandeliers, bowls, gongs, lanterns, umbrella stands, lamp shades, smoking sets and other artistic metalwork.

Fan-shaped box by T. Murakami. Circa 1900-1910.

In 1905 at Liege International Exhibition, held in Liege, Belgium, Takejiro presented inlayed works, cloisonnes, bronzes and silverware. Around 1910 the workshop moved to Tominokoji Matsuwara Sagaru, Kyoto, and exported bronze ware, silk and embroideries. Unfortunately, from around middle 1910's the company's traces are lost.

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