My friend Genji offered to handcraft a small wooden box for me. Given the choice of colors, I selected red and yellow, the autumn colors of maple leaves. The design that Genji thought would appeal to me, based on examples of my favorite art shared with him, is the zig-zag or lightning bolt pattern, the geometric design seen on Lacquer boxes of the Momoyama period (1568-1615).

To my comment: Looking at your box lengthwise, so far, I prefer looking at the yellow lightning bolt. It will be interesting to find out whether I prefer different sides when I am in different moods.

Genji replied: You’ve hit upon one of the really interesting facets of the lightening bolt design in that it presents different faces, sometimes opposing and sometimes complementing each other. The observer may sometimes prefer one, sometimes the other, sometimes both equally, for clear or subtle reasons. Japanese art often goes deep.

Indeed, this morning, I prefer looking at the lightning bolt in red. My new preference for the red zig-zag may, in part, reflect that I am in the process of selecting different hues of red pigments, iron oxides, for my current painting. Looking at the red lightning bolt now makes me feel better than looking at the yellow one – a change of emotion.

Googling ‘lightning bolt pattern’ brought up: In ancient mythologies from many cultures, the lighting bolt would be hurled by male sky gods to punish, water, or fertilize the earth or its creatures.

It makes sense that the lightning bolt pattern appealed to Japanese feudal barons or warlords who had reunified their countries after a period civil strife and were now subsidizing the arts, as seen in the gilded pieces below. Momoyama-period