What Is Chokin Art?

Chokin art involves engraving metal.
Chokin art involves engraving metal. (Image: gravure image by Emmanuel MARZIN from Fotolia.com)

Chokin art has a long standing history in the Japanese culture. These gilded plates and other objects have captured the interest of many collectors from both Eastern and Western backgrounds.

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During the 12th century, Japanese chokin artists used this art to decorate the armor, weapons and other military supplies of notable samurai. Chokin artists also decorated shrines using this method.

Basic Designs

Chokin designs range from scenes of fierce dragons to those of gentle blossoms. Since it is a traditional Japanese art form, chokin art always depicts images considered native to Japanese culture. Examples include geisha, dragons, Japanese style bridges, legends, ocean scenes, flowers native to the country and actual Japanese landscapes.

Japanese architecture provides inspiration for several chokin designs.
Japanese architecture provides inspiration for several chokin designs. (Image: Japanese background image by japonka from Fotolia.com)


Chokin art adorns many types of items. Plates hold the most collectible status. Other notable chokin art items include vases, jewelry boxes, plaques, bells, makeup containers, clocks, card cases, lamps, cups, mugs, fan plates and other trinkets.

Chokin art decorates vases, plates and clocks.
Chokin art decorates vases, plates and clocks. (Image: Chinese vase with design of flowers and hieroglyphs. image by Veniamin Kraskov from Fotolia.com)

What to Look For

The most effective way to find quality chokin pieces involves researching popular collections, either online or through collector's magazines, and looking for the work of notable artists collaborating with renowned calligraphers. Making purchases in person also allows the consumer a greater chance of observing the quality of a particular piece.


When searching for quality chokin art, knowing the names of a few high demand artists helps tremendously. Avid chokin plate collectors typically know the name Yoshinobu Hara. Risho Arita is widely accepted as a chokin master, and even took on students. One student, Shuho Eguchi, is also well renowned, and works occasionally with Senkin Kage, an internationally acclaimed calligrapher.


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