Japanese Lacquer
Urushi or Japanese lacquer combines beauty and utility. It has been recognized as an intangible cultural asset by UNESCO. The Joboji-machi district in Iwate Prefecture is a source for high-quality, domestically produced lacquer. It is a scarce commodity, accounting for only 2% of the lacquer used in Japan. According to the lacquer tappers, a drop of lacquer sap is as precious as a drop of human blood. The area is famous for the lacquerware bowls associated with the local Joboji Temple. Also featured are some lacquerware speakers. They look good and sound good too! We visit a house in Sabae, Fukui Prefecture being decorated with lacquered walls and floors, which are likely to take one hundred years to complete. We also take a look at the amazingly designed round lacquerware lunchboxes traditionally used by the timber merchants in the Owase area in Mie Prefecture. And we feature the conservation work on the lacquered surfaces of the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, which has been ongoing since the complex was built in the Edo period.