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One of the most amazing Japanese crafts items: Japanese lackquerware (Shikki: 漆器).
Introduction of why lackquerware is attractive, how to select good ones, how to handle them. This article teaches how to find and handle good lacquerware generously even for beginner able to understand.
What Is Japanese Lackquerware
Japanese lacquerware (Shikki: 漆器) is Japanese crafts item. It is tableware and accessories made by painting lacquer (urushi: 漆) layer by layer on woodwork, paper, etc. Lacquer (urushi), which is sap from the lacquer tree, is row material of lackquerware layer painting. The lacquer has been used as an antiseptic or adhesive from the Jomon period (around 15,000 years ago ~ around 2,300 years ago). However, usage of lacquer spread over to many applies to the present. Lacquer layer painting has been applying not only on woodworks but also on glass, metal, and cloth. Additionally, it is used when making items other than tableware, such as furrows, tans, and fountain pens. This article introduces attractiveness of lacquerware and proper way of handling it.
Attractiveness of Lacquerware
1. Changing texture behavior over time while using
Texture of lacquerware will change over time. It leaves beautiful gloss on the surface after every usage, so color gradually changes over the passing year. Because of this reason, there is saying that lacquerware raise its users.
2. Shows classical beauty of Japan culture
Various types of flowers can be painted on the lacquerware to make users feel seasonal taste using gold powder. This painting technique on the lacquerware is called “Makie (蒔絵).” Also, even back of the bowl lid is casually decorated. It is very classic aesthetic sense in Japan to express seasonal change in such simple and everyday life tools.
3. Natural materials bring gentle texture
It is common to make lacquerware by painting layer by layer on wood. The unique texture of touching on the lip and hand while handling is very special and it cannot be felt by other products. There are merits from the using feature as well such as easy to hold with hands and stay warmer for longer time because heat transmission is low.
3 Points to Distinguish Good Lacquerware
You can purchase lacquerwares in many places including sightseeing areas and supermarkets of urban cities because it is favored by Japanese people very much. However, anyone want to buy lacquerware with good quality. In the below, three main points to check when purchasing good lacquerware listed for you.
1. What material it is made of?
Metal, plastic, and wood are used for lacquerware as a material, and they have totally different texture and durability. For example, lacquerware made from wood is better than plastic in many ways such as gentler texture and several years of durability.
So, check the materials, which is used in the lacquerware, on the tag if it is available. “Natural wood” on the tag means there has been used trees like tochi and Zelkova.
2. What material is used as lacquer painting?
Mainly, there are 3 types of lacquer paint: “Lacquer paint”, “Cashew paint”, and “Urethane paint”. Choosing lacquer painting’s material is also very important. Real lacquer’s features are very distinctive in texture of using and long durability. Smell of lacquer will not bother you after a short time using.
3. How about prices?
It is hard to understand material and lacquer painting differences for amateur people. Even if store’s staff couldn’t understand it, you have to decide from the “price.” The point on distinguishing by price is to know the price quote for each production area.
Since techniques to make lacquerware are very different depending on the production areas, prices are also can be very different. For example, Wajima-coated bowls that require long time and many steps to make them cost more than 10,000 yen. On the other hand, if you search well in right production areas, you can buy neat lacquerware around 3,000 yen.
It is good idea to go to veteran’s long-established store, in order to see and understand the price of good lacquerware. Also, picking lacquerware which is made by known craftsman/manufacturer or made with traditional techniques is good idea.
How to Handle Lacquerware
In the conclusion, we are introducing how to handle lacquerware for long durability.
Main points are drying and ultraviolet rays:
It is important to regularly use and clean lacquerware and put it in places with no direct sunlight for a durability. A place with higher humidity like lowest level of cupboard is better to avoid drying it too much. Some says do not use detergent for washing. However, you can use detergent as long as not keeping lacquerware in it for long time. Taking water off from lacquerware completely after washing is more important. Please wipe of all moistures after washing without leaving scratch carefully. Do not use it in microwave or dishwasher.
If you use lacquerware properly, it can last for several ten years. So, lacquerware can be very beautiful and sensitive memento of your travel. If you found of Japan culture, lacquerware is one of the unique souvenir for you.