Wakasa lacquerware

Wakasa lacquerware Wakasa nuri

High quality lacquerware that reflects the craftsman’s individuality


What is Wakasa lacquerware ?

Wakasa-nuri Lacquerware is produced in the area around Obama City, Fukui Prefecture. It is said to have originated in the early Edo Period when a craftsman serving the Obama Domain, which controlled the region near Wakasa Bay, created a design depicting the beautiful depths of the sea. Wakasa Bay is a ria coast made up of numerous small bays, and is a picturesque area which boasts a number of scenic spots such as the Amanohashidate, one of the Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan, and Kehi no Matsubara, one of the Three Most Scenic Pine Groves of Japan.
Defining features of Wakasa-nuri includes the use of eggshells, seashells and pine needles to create patterns, and coating them over with lacquer using the togidashi technique. That gives Wakasa-nuri its unique appearance and presence which sets it apart from other lacquerware, and the articles are prized as works of art. They are also popular as articles for daily use due to their durability against heat and water, so much so that Wakasa-nuri chopsticks account for more than 80% of the lacquer chopsticks produced domestically. Another appealing feature of Wakasa-nuri lies in the fact that the entire production process is carried out by a single craftsman, and the individuality of each craftsman can therefore be clearly seen on each article.


Wakasa lacquerware - History

Wakasa-nuri Lacquerware is said to have started in the early Edo Period around 1596 to 1615 (Keicho era), when Sanjuro MATSUURA, a lacquer craftsman working for the Obama Domain, designed and produced a lacquerware pattern based on the seabed of Wakasa Bay, using Chinese lacquerware as a reference. The improved version of this original prototype was called Kikujin-nuri, from which his disciples invented the isokusa-nuri technique. The techniques that are being passed down to this day were completed around 1658 to 1660 (Manji era). The lord of the Obama Domain then gave it the name Wakasa-nuri, protecting and actively promoting the production of Wakasa-nuri Lacquerware as a side job among lower class samurai, also known as the ashigaru.
Due to the active promotion by the successive generation of lords, the production of Wakasa-nuri Lacquerware grew to become a core industry that supported the Domain’s economy, and numerous outstanding craftsmen emerged, giving birth to various beautiful designs. The middle to late Edo Period is said to have been the golden age of Wakasa-nur Lacquerware. It remained popular as a local specialty of the region even after the Meiji Period. Craftsmen today are also looking at ways to create new designs that will suit the current trends.

General Production Process

Wakasa lacquerware - General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Fukui Ceramics Center

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