【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Takaoka Lacquerware (Toyama Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Takaoka Lacquerware (Toyama Prefecture)~


Takaoka lacquerware

※Lacquerware → Crafts made by layering lacquer on wood or paper



【Production area of Takaoka lacquerware】

Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture



【What is Takaoka lacquerware?】

Lacquerware made in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture.

In September 1975, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Takaoka lacquerware】

Takaoka lacquerware has three techniques: Aogai-nuri, Yusuke-nuri, and Chokoku-nuri.

One of the characteristics of Takaoka lacquerware is that you can enjoy the wide range of styles created by these techniques.




Aogai is made by thinly shaving the glossy parts of shells such as green mussels and abalones.

Triangles and rhombuses are made from blue shells, and these pieces are combined to express various things such as flowers, birds, mountains, and water.


The decorative technique of carving shellfish is called “raden”.

Generally, shellfish with a thickness of about 0.3 mm are often used.

However, Takaoka lacquerware also uses shells that are only 1/3 as thick, about 0.1 mm.

The use of such thin shells is a technique unique to Takaoka lacquerware.

By using thin shells, the color of the underlying lacquer can be seen through, and the shells can be seen shining blue.




A technique created by Yusuke Ishii, a lacquer artist, at the end of the Edo period.

Ishii continued to admire the lacquerware of the Ming dynasty in China, and continued his research.

First, flowers and birds, landscapes, people, etc. are drawn with sabi lacquer on a Chinese-style design.

After that, it is a technique that makes full use of various techniques such as applying foil painting, cobblestone, and blue shell.




After applying multiple layers of lacquer to the wood carving, peacocks, flowers, birds and animals are dug out on top of the patterns such as thunder and tortoiseshell patterns.

It is characterized by its three-dimensional appearance and unique luster.



【History of Takaoka lacquerware】

The year is 1609, at the beginning of the Edo period.

It is said that the first feudal lord of the Kaga clan, Toshinaga Maeda, built Takaoka Castle, and it is said that it began with the production of daily necessities such as chests of drawers and dining tables.

Takaoka Castle was abandoned in 1614, but after that it changed into a commercial and industrial town.


Tsuishu is a technique in which patterns are carved on top of multiple layers of vermillion lacquer.

“Tsuikoku” is a pattern carved into a piece of black lacquer.

The introduction of these techniques from China gave birth to the techniques of “carving,” “mother-of-pearl” and “rust painting,” which have been handed down to the present day.

By the way, carving is a technique devised by Tanpo Tsuji, who is said to be the originator of Takaoka lacquerware.


At the Takaoka Mikurumayama Festival held on May 1st every year, the gorgeous Takaoka Mikurumayama that is paraded through the city also uses the techniques of Tsuji Tanpo.


referring source:Toyama Sightseeing Navi


In 1850, Yusuke Ishii created Yusuke-nuri, which became popular in the Meiji period.


Recently, a new type of varnish coating, which uses various materials such as glass, has been born and is attracting attention from people in different fields such as the interior industry.



【Production process of Takaoka lacquerware】


Wood such as zelkova, horse chestnut, and katsura


①Making wooden base

Making wood base is to shave the wood after drying it sufficiently.

Takaoka lacquerware is made from the following four types of wood.



A wooden base made by carving wood with a planer or carving it with a chisel


・Hikimono Kiji

Wooden base made by shaving wood with a potter’s wheel


・Magemono Kiji

A wooden base made by bending a thinly sliced board into a ring shape and pasting the ends together.


・Sashimono wood base

Wooden base made by combining several boards



If the wooden base created in the previous process has scratches, etc., smooth the surface.

After that, attaching cloth to reinforce the fragile parts is called “Nuno-kise”.

Apply filling powder evenly and evenly so that the grain of the area where the cloth is pasted is not noticeable.


③intermediate coat

Lacquer is applied to the places where the sealing powder has been applied.

It is then dried and then sanded for a smooth surface.


④Drawing creation

In the case of Aogai-nuri, a drawing of the lacquerware is created while taking into consideration the pasting that will be done later.

It is necessary to have the imagination to imagine the finished product and the ability to express how to put it on the drawing.

The following shells are often used as materials for Aogai-nuri.



・Green snail

・Chinese clam

・Peacock Guy


⑤Shell cutting

Based on the completed design, it is a work to cut out the shellfish.


・Linear objects → Cut into pieces using a knife

・Small objects → Use a carving knife or chisel to cut while pushing the blade to the other side

・Curve → Cut out using a needle


Curved lines are often cut out in the shape of birds or animals, and are delicate work that requires the craftsmen’s outstanding skills.


⑥With blue shellfish

First, the design is copied onto the bare wood.

After that, apply a thin layer of lacquer to the area where the blue shell will be attached.

Lacquer is applied as an alternative to adhesive.

After pasting the blue shell, the process is complete.


⑦Hair carving

Once the lacquer is thoroughly dried, fine and delicate parts such as the “core of the flower” and the “human face” are drawn using a very fine needle.


⑧Small and middle coating

Next, lacquer is applied to the entire wooden base.

Once dried, the lacquer where the blue shell was pasted is peeled off using a chisel.



Apply lacquer all over again.

After drying, polish in the order of “Shizuoka charcoal → Roirozumi charcoal”.

Finally, the entire work is carefully polished with rapeseed oil and whetstone powder.


⑩Suri lacquer

Unrefined lacquer (Ki-urushi) is applied little by little by rubbing it in thinly.

After the lacquer is dried, it is carefully polished by hand using a mixture of rapeseed oil and square powder to bring out the luster.

After repeating the series of steps of “raw lacquer coating → drying → polishing” 3 to 4 times, it is completed.





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