NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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若狭塗 Wakasa-nuri Wakasa-nuri lacquer technique

Jp En

The Wakasa-nuri lacquer technique was started in the early Edo period 400 years ago by a lacquer artist from the Ohama feudal clan. He was influenced by lacquer making techniques from China and began making designs that interpreted the ocean floor. Years of refinement over generations have given rise to the unique technique we see today. Tadakatsu Sakai, the feudal lord of the Ohama clan, named it “Wakasa-nuri”, and he nurtured and promoted the art.  The technique was so unique that Lord Sakai not only made it the family’s treasure but he banned it from being emulated by other clans.  Unlike other lacquer art such as Raden, Makie, and Chinkin, pine needles and cypress leaf are laid on the base and embedded materials such as eggshell and seashell in the lacquer and then sanded down and polished to reveal deep layers of intricately speckled color and pattern. One of the best known designs is “Kikusui-oboshi”. The Wakasa-nuri requires many hours of subtle crafting by artisans and can take up to a year to complete a piece. As well as being extraordinarily beautiful to behold, the lacquer technique gives the finished pieces a high durability against moisture and heat. They are valued for their practical use well as objects of art.
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若狭めのう Wakasa Menou Wakasa Agate Work

Jp En

Wakasa Agate Work, highly regarded internationally, is thought to have originated in the Nara period (710-794AD) when a sea-faring people known as the Wani Tribe entered Onyu, an old village in the Wakasa region of Fukui Pref. They built Wani-Kaido, a road in front of a shrine, which bordered Wakasaichi Buddhist statue, and started producing jade objects.

In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a technique to burn ore and enhance the color of agate was perfected. However it was not until the Meiji period (1868-1912) that the sculptural technique of agate was introduced and perfected as a craft art.

It employs the firing techniques that  are unique to Wakasa agate work and, then, hardened ores that glow with beautiful color are cut and painstakingly polished to create such things as Buddhist statues, animal ornaments, incense burners, plummets for hanging scroll, clips for obi (kimono belt), and broaches.

Wakasa agate work requires incredible proficiency and patience taking a minimum of three years to master the polishing technique and another five or six years to be able to fully work the pieces. The apprenticeship can take up to fifteen years, only then will a craftsman be considered a true artist. However, once mastered, the beauty of the clear delicate gloss can be found nowhere but Wakasa agate.
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うるしダルマ Urushi-daruma Urushi Dharma

Jp En

Hearing of “a dharma doll” people usually imagine something red and round,
however, Urushi Dharma specially made in Obama City, Fukui Pref. is largely
different form this image. It is colorfully painted triangular pyramid
dharma. This kind of dharma doll is very unique and cannot be found anywhere
else in Japan. It is made out of a block of famous colorful lacquer of
Wakasa lacquer, which is clotted in a vessel, cut into a small piece and
grinded to finish. Its strength and gloss unique to urushi lacquer, original
coloration and shape has received high recognition. Made of 100 % lacquer,
it looks solid, its base is firm, and it never turns over. As it never turns
over or “fall over”, this dharma is very popular among students taking
entrance exams for universities as a lucky talisman. Urushi Dharma is
specified as the folk craft product of Fukui Pref..
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若狭塗箸 Wakasanuri-bashi Wakasa lacquered chopsticks

Jp En

Wakasa lacquered chopstick is traditional handicraft of Obama City, Fukui
Pref.. Its history dates back to the Edo period (1603−1867). Its unique
patterns like constellations express the sea bottom of Wakasa Bay. What
makes it unique is its making process, where pieces of seashells or
eggshells are stud on lacquered surface and various colors of lacquer is
applied again and again, as many as over ten times, and then grinding is
given carefully before polishing. It takes about 3 months to finish a pair.
The combination of white brightness of sea shell pieces and scattered gold
powder on the carefully finished chopsticks creates elegant atmosphere where
gentle wave sound on the beach can be heard. Wakasa lacquered chopstick was
specified as the Traditional Craft Product by Ministry of Economy, Trade and
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