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"Kiri" (Paulownia) Trivets

These blackened wooden trivets first caught our eye because of their beautiful grain and tree rings. Each trivet has a different shape and width, and as we looked at our trivet more carefully, our mind flew to the forest where it had grown years before. Nice and smooth to the touch, the trivet is surprisingly light and made of a wood called kiri (paulownia).    


Found in China and other East Asian countries like Japan and Korea, kiri trees grow really fast, and their wood is very light and resistant to moisture, heat, and warping. Because of these attributes, kiri has traditionally been valued in Japan and used for wardrobes and boxes for storing precious objects, as well as for making things like koto (a Japanese stringed instrument) and geta (Japanese wooden sandals).

Using high-quality kiri wood sourced in Japan, these kiri trivets are handcrafted by the long-standing Iwamoto Kiyoshi Shōten studio in Kanazawa, in Ishikawa Prefecture. The surface of the trivet is burned, making the surface harder and the wood grain more visible. After burning, the soot is removed and the surface is polished to create a warm, smooth, and rounded texture. These kiri trivets are not only adorable to look at and nice to touch, but also practical. Since kiri has a very low conductivity of heat, the trivets will not become hot, and accordingly your tabletop will stay cool. 

Iwamoto’s kiri trivet has a hole in the middle because the kiri tree naturally has a hollow center. Design-wise, there are two versions: one featuring the original hole and another with a large hole carved by artisans. Size-wise, there are three options: small (5–5⅛ inches in diameter), medium (6⅛–6¼ inches), and large (7¾–8¼ inches). The thickness is about 0.7 inches, which is the same for all three sizes. 

There are no two identical pieces, so you can choose whichever one fits your taste and, more important, purpose—we obtained the small size with a natural hole, using it to serve appetizers and as a mug saucer instead of as a trivet. It would also be nice hanging on the wall to give your room a  wabi-sabi accent. 

Kiri Trivets are available on


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