Tsugaru Lacquer Ware, Born during the Edo Period
Tsugaru Lacquer Ware is thought to have originated during the Edo Period (1603-1867), approximately 300 years ago, when Nobumasa (1656-1710), the 4th leader of the Tsugaru clan commissioned Genbe Ikeda as the first lacquer artist. During the Edo Period, which saw the clan safeguard and develop this skill, the lacquer ware was used mostly as home furnishings, and the industry was established from the beginning of the Meiji Era (1867-1911). The lacquer was cherished by many and subsequently gained popularity. The lacquer ware is still used to this day.
50 Steps to Completion
Tsugaru lacquer ware is made from Aomori cypress trees. The material is first lacquered, then sanded, and polished, a process that requires 50 long steps for the solid and beautiful product to be completed. The four types of lacquer ware, called “kara-nuri”, “nanako-nuri,” “monsya-nuri,” and “nishiki-nuri,” have been produced continuously since their creation, and the artists of today are arranging and creating new designs and patterns. Tsugaru lacquer ware was designated as a Traditional Craft by Japanese Government in 1975.
Representative of Tsugaru lacquer ware, the most commonly used “kara-nuri” pattern’s complex speckles are created through repeated application, drying, and polishing. Over 48 steps are involved and the process takes at least 1.5-2 months.
Nanako-nuri is a lacquer ware polishing technique where rape blossom seeds are used to create a characteristic pattern consisting of many small circles. Because this pattern is also reminiscent of fish eggs, the word "nanako" in Japanese can be written with a variety of characters invoking this imagery.
“Monsya-nuri” is a Tsugaru lacquer ware technique requiring advanced skill, where rice husk ash is sprinkled over black lacquer and polished.
Modern Tsugaru Lacquer Ware
Even in the traditional world of Tsugaru lacquer ware, the number of young artists creating everyday items is increasing. This is a heart-shaped pendant, representing the traditional art of Tsugaru lacquer ware blending into modern life.
By:Aomori Prefecture
Credits: Story

Aomori Prefecture

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