Celebrating Traditional Lacquerware in Tokyo
The beauty of Japan surrounds us in more ways than we can imagine. From breathtaking landscapes to delicately prepared cuisine, there is beauty in everything.
While nature is forward in showing its appeal, there are many aspects of Japanese beauty of which visitors are unaware. For instance, art. When the subject of Japanese art arises, many picture old block-printed pieces, vividly painted fans, and delicate silk kimonos. One understated piece of Japanese art is lacquerware.
Fukui prefecture, home to dinosaur fossils, delicious seafood, and breathtaking sights, is also the birthplace of Echizen Urushi lacquerware. Admired for its beautiful design, handcrafted quality, and durability, this lacquerware is treasured.
At Gallery Seizan in Ginza, visiting artist and lacquerware master, Mr. Atsuo Yamagishi told the tale of two lacquerware cups, used every day for the past 20 years, which remain in excellent condition. This durability is proof of the quality and skill which go into making each item.
While the red and black traditional lacquerware is found easily, its colorful cousins are a rare find in the market. Mr. Yamagishi specializes in this kind, which results in unique pieces whose color and design cannot be recreated. Thus each piece is a rare work of usable art. From cups to bowls to trays, Mr. Yamagishi’s work is varied for multiple uses. Even the paintings which adorned the walls of the gallery can be used as tablemats; the benefits of lacquerware include ease of cleaning and durability.
As Mr. Yamagishi explained, the process of developing each piece involves smoothing and treating hand-selected wood pieces. Since each piece is unique and contains a different ratio of sap to fiber, it displays colors distinctly from any other piece. This is why it is nearly impossible to create identical artworks; it is also what makes each so special.
For this special art tour event, the gallery also provided a beautifully-prepared lunch of special new year’s and girls’ day foods. Everything was delicious in both taste and appearance. Served on pieces made by Mr. Yamagishi, it was a very special experience.
Be sure to stop by the gallery when touring Ginza!
[posted by Nadia]
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