Urushi lacquerware production in Wajima
Wajima, Ishikawa is located on Noto peninsula which faces the Sea of Japan.
In the area which produces lacquerware, the group of masters, so called “Nushi-ya” is responsible for receiving an order, placing an order with collaborate factories, design, production, and sales.
The process of the production is divided into several processes such as wooden core curving, foundation painting, top coat painting, polishing, decoration such as Chinkin, Makie and precision surface finishing such as Roiro.
Wooden core manufacturers are divided into four kinds such as:
Wankiji (wooden bowls made of Zelkova, Cherry birch, horse chestnut, or chestnut)
Magemono kiji (circular bended boxes made of Thujopsis dolabrata or Japanese Cypress)
Sashimono kiji (joinery made of Thujopsis dolabrata or China craft board)
Hokiji (Japanese whitebark magnolia wooden core). Carving the Japanese white-bark magnolia wooden core fittings, and processing complicated wooden cores that are hollowed out.
The works of wood that we have inherited from our predecessors
Kirimoto Family has been involved with the work of wood and lacquerware for over 150 years. Until the Meiji period, this workshop had manufactured and sold Wajima laquerware. The workshop which Kyuko Kirimoto founded in 1929 specialized in carving the Japanese white-bark magnolia wooden core fittings. Using mainly the white-bark magnolia which has the right hardness and easiness of fabrication, the workshop has been specialized in processing complicated wooden core by hollowing out. Kyuko worked at the workshop which is not so large from early in the morning until late at night with skilled craftsmen. As he concentrated on his work of plane in a cold winter, steam was coming out from his head.
The second generation of wood carving, Toshihei, built a factory where not only wooden cores for lacquerware but also a wide variety of furniture was produced.
The third generation of wood carving, Taiichi, majored in product design in university and worked in office planning for another company before returning to Wajima. After apprenticing as a wood core maker for four and a half years, and helped Toshihei manage the business while producing wood modeling proposals, design proposals, and overall direction of lacquer production. While keeping the regular work of making wooden fittings, he also works together with the talented craftspeople making lacquer vessels, small articles, furniture, and interior elements, exploring the possibilities of lacquer as a part of modern lifestyles.