Kobayashi Shikki | Lacquerware
Dust on a freshly painted workpiece would usually be a disaster. But here, seeds or charcoal powder are deliberately trickled onto the moist surface, to be scraped off again after drying. These are the unusual ingredients that, among others, are used in the making of traditional Tsugaru nuri lacquerware. The finely worked polychrome patterns are applied exclusively by hand and Kobayashi Shikki, a family business from Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, is a sixth-generation producer.
The technique originated around the beginning of the eighteenth century, when Tsugaru nuri objects developed a high reputation, serving as status symbols for feudal lords and samurai. Today, the variations of this lacquer art adorn countless everyday objects, from tables and boxes to bowls, cups, chopsticks and accessories such as jewelry and even smartphone covers.
Although Kobayashi Shikki have dedicated themselves to the traditional lacquer art, they regularly develop new patterns and product ideas. The family has recognized that even a historic craft so embedded in the Japanese cultural landscape must renew itself in order to appeal to future customers.