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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 ...

  • CAN I DO IT?!

  • 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!

Welcome to Aizu-Wakamatsu, a northern town in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture.

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B1 japanese fukushima workshop bunny prefecture aizu

Working a Day in one of Japan's Oldest Jobs: 漆器作り

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/28
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