Chopstick Engraving Experience in Wajima
Wajima-nuri lacquer is ubiquitous in Noto Peninsula, recognisable for its glossy black and red tableware finished off with intricate gold designs. As the birthplace of the renowned lacquerware, Wajima is the perfect place to try your hand at decorating your own lacquer chopsticks.
There is a skilled art behind the creation of lacquerware and the same is to be said for the delicate gold designs they often adorn. In the heart of the small seaside city of Wajima is a whole area dedicated to lacquerware and its creation with little private workshops specializing in the traditional craft as well as numerous shops selling Wajima-nuri. Engravings onto lacquerware are done by scratching a design into the surface then filling them with gold leaf to create elegant pieces which can sell for a hefty price and are found not only all over Japan but also overseas.
The Wajima Kobo Nagaya workshop is one that is open to the public offering chopstick engraving experiences to anyone that wants to give the art a go. Although the workshop is run in Japanese, the process is relatively straightforward and easy to copy; the real challenge is unleashing your creativity.
Starting with a practice tile, you’ll have the chance to come up with your design and get the hang of scraping into the lacquer with a sharp object resembling a pen. Practising on a piece of tile lets you get the hang of how to get the best results for when you finally start designing your chopsticks. Anyone struggling for ideas can take a look at the intricately designed example chopsticks around the room to help get the creative juices flowing.
Once the technique is mastered, it's time to put those skills to the test on a glossy pair of black chopsticks. It's easy to appreciate the price tag on decorated lacquerware items once you see the precision and time that goes into creating each piece. While the practice tiles are given their golden sheen with a yellow pencil for an instant result, the finished chopsticks are handed back over to the experts to get them filled out in real gold leaf.
As well as chopstick engraving, which will put you back 1,500 yen, other experiences available include larger items such as panels for 2,500 yen and a maki-e gold painting experience also for chopsticks at 1,500 yen. As the paint can take some time to dry, the chopsticks may need to be sent onto you after which adds an extra 200 yen to the price.