【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Aizu Lacquerware (Fukushima Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Aizu Lacquerware (Fukushima Prefecture)~


Aizu lacquerware



【Production area of Aizu lacquerware】

Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, etc.



【What is Aizu lacquerware?】

Lacquerware produced in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture (Aizuwakamatsu City, etc.).

Depending on the difference in the manufacturing process, it is classified into two types: “marumono” and “itamono”.



Round objects such as bowls


・ Itamono

Square objects such as trays, jubako, and bunko (boxes for storing letters, documents, and other miscellaneous items)


In addition, the auspicious pattern drawn by combining pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms and Hamaya (ritual arrows to drive away devils) is called “Aizu-e (pine, bamboo, plum, lacquer painting)” and is a representative design of Aizu lacquerware.


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



【Features of Aizu lacquerware】

Auspicious patterns such as pine, bamboo, and plum, Hamaya (ritual arrows to drive away devils), and cranes and turtles.

In addition to colored lacquer such as vermillion, green, brown, and yellow, beautiful coloring such as adding gold leaf.

These two are the big features.

In addition, compared to other lacquerware, the fine and shallow carving creates a calm atmosphere even though it is a gorgeous decoration.

In the Edo period, colors such as black, vermilion, and green were mainly used.

However, in modern times, deep reddish dark brown and yellowish vermilion are also used, and the vivid color scheme is also one of the highlights.


The following are the traditional overcoating techniques of Aizu lacquerware.

All techniques require skilled craftsmen.


・Iron rust coating

By applying rust lacquer made by mixing whetstone powder with unrefined lacquer, it expresses a solid feeling like a casting.


・Golden bug coating

After applying black lacquer, rice husks are sprinkled over the entire surface.

After drying, the rice husks are removed to create an uneven pattern on the surface, which is then covered with gold leaf.

It is characterized by not being able to make the same pattern as one.


・Kijiro coating

A technique that maximizes the beauty of wood grain by applying transparent lacquer.


・Hana coating

A technique in which oil is added to give a luster to the lacquer, which is then overcoated.


As a technique of decoration, “Shufun Makie” is representative.

Gold or silver leaf is mixed with starch syrup, dried, then kneaded into a fine powder and sprinkled.



【History of Aizu lacquerware】

The origins of Aizu lacquer ware began in 1590, about 430 years ago, when Ujisato Gamo entered the Aizu territory.

Gamo Ujisato invited excellent woodworkers and lacquer makers from Omi Province to establish the basics of lacquerware making and the cutting-edge technology of the time in Aizu.

As a result, it has developed greatly as a production area that can handle all processes from cultivation of lacquer necessary for production to overcoating and lacquer work.


In the Edo period, Aizu lacquerware was protected and encouraged by the clan.

In addition, craftsmen continued to advance by actively adopting new techniques, and at the end of the Edo period, they began to be exported to countries such as the Netherlands and China.


Aizu was burned to the ground during the Boshin War, but was rebuilt afterward.

In the mid-Meiji period, the city regained its name as one of Japan’s leading lacquerware production areas.


Today, the Aizu lacquerware technique is used in a wide range of fields, from pendants, earrings, interior goods such as floor stands, to the interior and exterior of cars.

Thanks to the efforts of those involved in Aizu lacquerware, it continues to evolve in line with the times.



【Production process of Aizu lacquerware】

①Rough grinding

Aizu lacquerware uses different materials depending on the product as follows.



Japanese zelkova, horse chestnut, etc.


・ Itamono

magnolia, zelkova, etc.


After cutting the wood into rough sizes, it is left to dry naturally for several years.


②Making wooden base


This is the process of scraping wood that has been sufficiently dried.



A craftsman who uses a potter’s wheel to create a round wooden base is called a kijishi.

By using the “Suzuki potter’s wheel” developed in Aizu in the Meiji era, it became possible to finish it efficiently.


・ Itamono

The craftsman who makes the wooden base for wooden boards is called a sorinshi.

Aizu is said to have the oldest tradition of Sorinshi in all of Japan.

Many kinds of tools such as planers and saws are used for production.



After applying rust lacquer made by mixing raw lacquer with whetstone powder, it is finished flat and smooth.

After that, it is a process of carefully polishing to eliminate unevenness on the surface.




There are three types of coating: “Undercoat”, “Middle Coat” and “Top Coat”.

“Undercoat” and “middle coat” are polished after applying lacquer.

After confirming that there are no scratches on the surface, the order is to apply a top coat.


There are four representative methods of overcoating as described above.




Makie is a technique in which gold powder, silver powder, and colored powder (powder of pigments, etc.) are sprinkled on the surface after drawing a picture on the surface with lacquer.





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