【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Hida Shunkei (Gifu Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Hida Shunkei (Gifu Prefecture)~


Hida Shunkei



【Production area of Hida Shunkei】

Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture



【What is Hida Shunkei?】

Lacquerware produced in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture and its surrounding areas.

The colors of early works were similar to the masterpiece “Hishunkei” of tea utensils made by Kagemasa Kato, who is considered to be the founder of Seto ware.

It is said that this is the origin of the name “Shunkei”.


In addition to daily necessities such as trays, plates, and vases, various types of works such as business card cases, watches, and accessories are made.

The more you use it, the more lustrous the color will appear, so it can be said that it expresses beauty in practicality.


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



【Features of Hida Shunkei】

The lacquer harvested in July and August is called ‘Sakarimono’ because it is of the highest quality.

The lacquer that has increased transparency by removing water from the raw lacquer is called “clear lacquer”.

Hida Shunkei expresses a transparent color by applying clear lacquer.

Another feature is the natural beauty that makes use of the wood grain.


In addition, each lacquerer uses his own method to create transparent lacquer, so no two transparent lacquers are the same.

If you compare the works of each lacquerer, you will be able to enjoy Hida Shunkei even more.



【History of Hida Shunkei】

In the early 1600s, Kizaemon Takahashi, a master carpenter, was fascinated by the gracefulness of the wood grain of Sawara and started making trays.

When he presented the tray to Munekazu Kanamori (the eldest son of the lord of Hida Takayama Castle), he was very pleased and had Sanemon Narita, the founder of Shunkei lacquerware, paint it.

This is said to be the origin of Hida Shunkei.

In addition, it seems that the tray made was presented to the shogun family.


The style of making the most of the natural beauty of wood grain came to be widely used as tea utensils.

After that, many items used in daily life, such as tiered boxes for packing food, began to be produced.


In the Meiji era, when exhibited at the St. Louis World Exposition, it won a silver medal.

It will become a well-known name in the world.


During the war, it became difficult to obtain lacquer, and there was a time when it declined as an industry.

However, during the period of rapid economic growth, they were valued as gifts, and recently demand for them as souvenirs and mementos has increased.



【Production process of Hida Shunkei】

①Raw wood

The materials used are sawara, hinoki, and Japanese horse chestnut.

After 5 to 6 years of natural drying, the fabric is finished by a woodturner, a craftsman who processes and manufactures woodwork.

After being piled up outside and dried, it is transported to a sawmill and processed into boards.


②Natural drying

The processed boards are piled up and dried.

After that, it is further dried in the warehouse.


③Sawmilling / Wood trimming

This is the process of cutting the board according to the product to be manufactured.


④Wood base production

Depending on the type of product to be produced, the following specialized craftsmen make each wooden base.



When a wood grain is cut off-center, the wood grain that appears on the surface of the wood grain is used by the Hegimeshi.

Hegime is the unevenness of the line that naturally forms on the torn surface when the board is torn.

After making the cross-cut parts, glue them together and combine them to make a multi-tiered box or a tray.



Magemonoshi is a woodturner who makes bent objects such as round trays.

After being softened by steaming or boiling, the boards are bent to make round products such as tea caddies for holding tea leaves.

After making a round shape using a special tool, glue both ends together.

In addition, it is reinforced with wild cherry skin to prevent it from coming off.


・ Hikimonoshi

This is a technique for making round objects such as round trays and confectionery containers.

Once the wood is attached to the potter’s wheel, it is rotated and carved or hollowed out with a knife to shape it.



Once the bare wood is complete, the next step is the process by the lacquerer.

It is said to be the most important work in order to make the surface of the bare wood uniform.

Follow the steps below.


・Buffing the bare wood

・Apply a mixture of whetstone powder and water

・Wipe off with a cloth



Color with yellow or red dye.


⑦Under coating


In order to prevent the lacquer from penetrating directly, soybean juice is applied multiple times to create a thin film on the surface.

Soybean soup is a liquid made by soaking soybeans in water, grinding them, and straining them.


⑧Finish polishing

This is the process of polishing the surface with sandpaper.




Follow the steps below.


・Make a liquid by mixing raw lacquer and perilla oil

・After applying the liquid to the bare wood, wipe it off with a cloth to allow the lacquer to soak in.

・ Repeat the process of “painting → wiping off”


By doing this process, the liquid becomes hard and transparent, and the appearance of the wood grain changes.


⑩Over coating


It is a process of applying transparent lacquer and finishing.

Dust must not adhere, so it must be done with extreme caution.


The lacquer applied in this process is made by the lacquerer using his own method.

Lacquer hardens easily in an environment where the temperature is 24-28°C and the humidity is 70-85%.

The best lacquer for the work is used depending on the season, temperature and humidity of the day.



Put it in a drying room that maintains the conditions suitable for drying and dry it to complete.





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