|Refined Skills in Division of Labor Create
In the area around the Aizu basin, which lies in the middle of Fukushima Prefecture, lacquer working dates back to about the 15th century. The firm foundations for Aizu lacquerware were later laid when a number of lacquer craftsmen were brought in by a new feudal lord who was transferred from Shiga to rule the land. In the second half of the 18th century the feudal administration of Aizu took the initiative and started directing production after inviting various craftsmen from Kyoto, who specialized in gold dust application and other decorative techniques.
Aizu lacquerware is the product of a distinctive manufacturing system involving a fine division of labor, that allows volume production while using handcrafting techniques. Specialist craftworkers perform separate tasks such as wood forming and lacquering, so each contributes a high level of skill that leads to the creation of finished items of superior quality. The types of lacquerwork being particularly famous are a special technique called hananuri (a lacquering technique that goes through the process of coating with lacquer, drying and finishing without polishing) and the decorative use of gold dust to create gorgeous designs known as makie. Aizu remains one of the most famous lacquerware production centers, producing mainly furniture and other items for household use, including bowls, trays, cake dishes, stacking boxes, and sake servers.
Photo: A sake serving set for New Year's Day (Fukushima Prefecture).
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