Takaoka City’s prized Takaoka lacquerware has captivated many people with its beauty. Decorated with simple, delicate designs and vividly elegant colors, it has gained popularity both inside and outside of Japan.
The history of Takaoka lacquerware goes back as far as that of Takaoka City itself. When the second Kaga clan lord, Maeda Toshinaga, built Takaoka Castle and established what is now Takaoka City around 1609, he invited craftsmen from throughout the country to his domain, and had them produce various key necessities from armories to cabinets. This is said to have been the origin of Takaoka lacquerware.
Starting out as a townspeople’s craft, by the late 18th century, Takaoka Lacquerware was beginning to be influenced by over-glazing methods from China, including tsuishu (the over-glazing of red lacquerware) and tsuikoku (the over-glazing of black lacquerware), and the region saw the start of production of trays and jubako multi-tiered food boxes. Techniques developed such as chokoku-nuri (sculpture painting), where artisans would literally paint lacquer onto sculptures, and sabi-e (rust paintings) that use sabi urushi (rust lacquer) to paint subjects three-dimensionally.
Takaoka expanded as a production center and became known nationwide. Building on these techniques, various products such as trays, tea utensils and furniture were manufactured, and in 1975, Takaoka lacquerware was designated as a traditional craft by the Japanese government.
Other lacquer techniques representative of Takaoka are yusuke-nuri and aogai-nuri. Yusuke-nuri is a comprehensive technique that uses a Chinese designs as its base, with singular subjects or combinations of subjects such as flowers and birds, mountains and water, or human figures painted using the sabi-e technique. Decorations are then added to this foundation using coral and gold or silver sheets. Aogai-nuri, meanwhile, uses inlaid mother-of-pearl to create its designs. By using thin, hand-crafted shells, the foundation becomes transparent, illuminating a beautiful shade of blue.
Takaoka lacquerware continues to be made to this day. Classic products such as trays and hand mirrors are still being manufactured, as well as new products that cater to modern needs, such as smartphone cases and piercings. Ancient or modern, investing in the dignified beauty of Takaoka lacquerware can bring an inspiring change to your life.
1-2-3 Shintomicho Toyama City Toyama Prefecture
JR Takaoka Station
6 Shimozekimachi Takaoka City Toyama Prefecture