Takaoka lacquerware

Takaoka lacquerware Takaoka shikki

A mysterious pattern that depicts the beautiful ocean depths


What is Takaoka lacquerware ?

Takaoka Lacquerware is produced in the area around Takaoka City, in Toyama Prefecture. A defining feature of Takaoka Lacquerware is the wide range of styles that can be enjoyed, represented by the “aogai-nuri”, “yusuke-nuri” and “chokoku-nuri” techniques.
“Aogai-nuri” is a technique that uses pieces of “aogai”, which are thinly-shaved slivers of the shiny parts of seashells, to create triangular and diamond patterns that are then combined to express flowers, birds and natural landscapes. Decorative techniques that use seashells are collectively known as “raden”. While seashells of approximately 0.3mm thickness are generally used, seashells of approximately 0.1mm are also used for Takaoka Lacquerware. Using thinner seashells allows the colour of the base lacquer to show through, giving the seashells a blue glow. This technique is unique to Takaoka Lacquerware.
“Yusuke-nuri” is a technique created during the late Edo Period after much research by Yusuke ISHII, who deeply admired Chinese lacquerware from the Ming Dynasty. It is a comprehensive technique involving Chinese-style designs of flowers, birds, natural landscapes and people being drawn using rust lacquer, decorated with aogai, haku-e (gold leaf decorations) and stones and subsequently coated.
“Chokoku-nuri” involves coating wood carvings with red or black lacquer, and carving designs of plants, animals, peonies, peacocks and wave crests onto raimon (lightning fretwork) or hexagonal patterns, which creates a stereoscopic effect and gives it a unique luster.
There are also kawari-nuri articles using various materials such as plastic and glass.


Takaoka lacquerware  - History

Takaoka Lacquerware is said to have started around 1609 in the early Edo period, when Toshinaga MAEDA, the first lord of the Kaga Domain, built the Takaoka Castle and ordered the production of weapons and daily goods such as dressers and trays. Takaoka Castle was unfortunately abandoned merely five years later, but Takaoka subsequently transitioned to become a commercial and industrial town. Tsuishu and tsuikoku techniques, which involve engraving designs on a thick base made by coating numerous layers of red or black lacquer, were introduced from China, and that created the foundations for the techniques that are being used to this day, namely, chokoku-nuri, raden and sabi-e.
“Chokoku-nuri” was invented based on techniques used by Tanpo TSUJI, who was active during the Middle Edo Period between 1764 and 1772. Tanpo TSUJI’s works are also used in the Takaoka Mikuruma-yama wheeled floats that are paraded during the Takaoka Mikuruma-yama Festival. “Chokoku-nuri” became popular in the early 19th century due to the emergence of master craftsmen such as Koemon ITAYA. In 1850 of the late Edo Period, Yusuke ISHII invented “yusuke-nuri” after studying Chinese lacquerware from the Ming Dynasty, which grew in popularity during the Meiji Period.
Recently, “kawari-nuri”, which involves coating lacquer on various materials, have been garnering attention particularly from the interior design industry.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Takaoka Design Crafts Center

See other Lacquerware

See items made in Toyama