B1 Intermediate 36 Folder Collection
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Welcome to Aizu-Wakamatsu, a northern town in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture.
Have to admit until now I've had a pretty narrow idea of the prefecture
Due mostly to the 2011 disaster along the eastern coast
and it's not just me it turns out that only 1% of travelers
who visit Japan make it up to Tohoku.
This wide region of Japan is home to so much more
There's an ancient industry from the the Neolithic ages
that's still in heavy use today.
Here in Aizu-Wakamatsu, there is a special grove of trees that plays a key role in this story
It's our starting point in learning one of japan's most historically traditional crafts.
These here are known as Urushi no Ki, a kind of tree
that creates the natural lacquer used for making the
World-famous lacquerware (Japanese: "Shikki").
During our visit today
We're working with local craftsmen to learn the authentic way to grow, extract
carve, seal and paint lacquerware bowls,
a process that's been used for thousands of years
since the first artifacts discovered in Japan's Jomon era
This is Wataru Kainuma, a Japanese/English bilingual
native to Fukushima who has founded the hands on lacquerware tour that we're joining today.
He was so kind and really knowledgeable!
Once mature the Urushi no Ki can be used to harvest
the natural sealant used for bowls in other lacquerware.
This step takes place during a specific time of year
so we had a quick Q&A session to review during lunch
We're gonna go and get a bite to eat and learn a little bit more about what we're doing next.
Hey guys, so we made it to lunch now
and we're gonna watch a little movie more about how the actual trees are used to make the
final like bowls and different products
But we're actually going to eat out of them now
With our lunch that we're having here!
Uwa, it looks so good!!
After lunch we headed over to meet a local kiji-shi
a type of craftsman whose job it is to turn the wood into the basic shapes.
I know a lot of people like going to 100-yen stores
and collect all the little bowls, but I've never seen ones like these before.
Each bowl has a unique marking and design to it
and unlike the cheaper bowls
they don't get hot from hot things but they keep your food warm!
So they're actually like magic bowls that you're not going to find anywhere else .
These "Shikki" are truly handmade beauties
and they're considered to be very high-end as well!
So we just met the owner of this workshop
his son's making some traditional bowls over there
but he's gonna show us how he makes the bowls around this workshop table here.
And now the last step, it's finally our turn
designing the bowls that have already been sealed with lacquer coats.
In Japanese, this job is usually done by someone called a "Makieshi"
the artisan who hand-paints the intricate designs!
So I am going to try making at least one of these bunnies
I like this mega-butt-bunny because he's so cute!
Hello, everyone welcome to the workshop!
I'm here with the master learning how to paint my own
beautiful, Japanese-style bowls!
I'm going to try making the red one over there!
Using this pattern with the bunny rabbits ...
My boat rabbit!
Are you kidding me?!
I killed my bunny!!
Oh no!!!
Okay guys, I did it!
What do you think?
Shikki Japanese lacquerware are one of the most
famous exports of Fukushima Prefecture,
whose traditional art and craft has been preserved here locally since ancient times.
Me personally ever since high school
I loved collecting Japanese lacquerware and bowls
So today was an extra-special chance for me to recreate a key piece of culture in history on my own
Is there an aspect of Japanese culture or history that interests you?
So working alongside a local expert for their day is
a hands-on way to feel Japanese culture for yourself.
Below this video is a link to this and similar experiences
to join the next time that you're up for something new in Japan
What aspect of Japan really excites you? Let me know in a comment. I'd love to hear about it!
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Working a Day in one of Japan's Oldest Jobs: 漆器作り

36 Folder Collection
Summer published on April 28, 2020
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