produced by Tohoku Kogei

‘Tamamushi lacquerware’ is a Sendai-born urushi lacquerware that features captivating colors and gloss that reflects light.

It was named ‘Tamamushi (jewel beetle)’ since the beautiful colors change tones according to the degree of light resembles the wings of the jewel beetle.

Our unique lacquering technique, in which the articles are sprinkled with silver powder and coated with transparent urushi lacquer combined with dyestuff, was developed as a national policy particularly for use on our export products. The patented technique adds new excelling brightness and vibrancy to meet the preference of our overseas customers.

Tamamushi lacquerware is designated by Miyagi Prefecture as a traditional craftwork and manufactured solely by Tohoku Kogei, which was established in 1933 with the support of the National Research Institute of Industrial Arts and the Tohoku Imperial University’s Institute for Materials Research.

Since its inauguration, Tohoku Kogei has valued its unique spirit of manufacturing which is to make ‘not only ornamental but useful craftwork’.

Tohoku Kogei currently produces a wide range of products such as stationary and tableware handy for use in various places and situations, while producing gifts, souvenirs and articles presented to the Japanese Imperial royal family representing the traditional craftwork of Sendai.

The first process is to repeatedly polish plain irregular surfaces and scratches to, the base material, which is usually made of wood, metal, glass or resin, until it is ready for the overcoat. After being coated and polished many times, the surface becomes smoother and stronger. This is an important process since the quality of lacquerware is determined by its base.

'Sprinkling silver powder'

This process, unique to Tamamushi lacquerware, produces its greatest feature: the captivating gloss. By adjusting the degree of shine of the silver powder, the pieces acquire the capacity to reflect light beautifully and deeply.

'Polishing silver powder'

This is a process used to smooth out irregularities in the silver powder particles and facilitate their adhesion to the overcoat.

'Blending'

When blending lacquers, the craftspeople adjust the colors and viscosity according to the ambient temperature and humidity, as well as the size and shape of the piece.

'Overcoat'

Red and green Tamamushi urushi lacquers are applied to the piece. This process requires technical proficiency. The craftspeople readjust the blending of lacquers according to the humidity and temperature, and coat the article evenly. This elaborate process is reiterated with the greatest care lest dust and dirt attach themselves to the piece or the coating be applied unevenly.

'Maki-e'

Specialized craftspeople manually paint gorgeous decorative patterns unique to lacquerware on each piece using the maki-e technique.

Maki-e: a technique for painting a picture with urushi lacquer and then sprinkling gold powder or similar over the top.

The company has cultivated a family atmosphere for its employees for generations. Both young and experienced employees tackle their tasks as one.

Works

Tamamushi lacquerware: cereal bowls

Tamamushi lacquerware: wine cups

TOUCH CLASSIC: Old-fashioned glass

Tamamushi lacquerware: fountain pen

Tamamushi lacquerware: metal flower vase with a picture of a phoenix

The showroom in Sendai, the birthplace of Tohoku Kogei, sells signature products as well as new lines such as ‘TOUCH CLASSIC’, and also displays pieces for presentation to the Japanese Imperial family and other items only available on-site. Visitors can select products at their own pace while enjoying tea in the brightly lit room. We also have videos to explain the manufacturing process and help desks for visitors looking for gifts or wedding favors.

The studio located at Ayashi in Aoba-ku, Sendai is the only place where Tamamushi lacquerware, designated by the prefectural authority as a traditional craftwork of Miyagi, is manufactured.

By: Sendai Tourism, Convention and International Association
Credits: Story

東北工芸製作所

Credits: All media
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